Gov. Jane Hull (R) predicted spending on some programs for poor residents could exceed the state’s ability to pay.
To address the possible shortfall, Hull said in her State of the State address, “Tough decisions need to be made and they need to be made now. Government cannot be all things to all people.”
Hull also asked the state’s Medicaid program, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, to coordinate a statewide educational program regarding long-term care.
Facing a $350 million budget deficit in this fiscal year, Gov. John Rowland (R) has cancelled plans to spend $14 million on mental health services in 2002-2003.
To cover this year’s budget deficit, Rowland said he would consider increasing the state’s cigarette tax to $1 a pack. Any revenue from the tax should support health care costs, he said, not anti-smoking programs.
In his budget for fiscal year 2003, Gov. Roy Barnes (D) has proposed eliminating a planned expansion of Medicaid coverage to children in families with annual incomes of up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level. Barnes had proposed $235 million to cover the expansion, but an increase in Medicaid costs prompted the governor to delay the expansion plan.
Barnes’ budget also recommends cutting $2.5 million from the Babies Born Healthy program, which provides prenatal care to low-income women.
In an effort to fund health care and education in 2002-2003 and cover a $48 million Medicaid budget shortfall, Gov. Tom Vilsack (D) has proposed using $48 million from the state’s “rainy day” fund and $60 million from a road-use tax fund.
To further bolster the Medicaid program’s budget, Vilsack proposed a 13 percent reduction in reimbursements to Medicaid providers, as well as using money from the state’s tobacco settlement and a trust fund designed to pay for health care for seniors. Vilsack’s plan also relies on receiving $10 to $12 million in additional funding from the federal government.
In his State of the State speech, Gov. Bill Graves (R) lamented the budget he announced last month, with planned cuts of more than $400 million from the state general fund. Graves said, “It is not a budget I can or will accept.”
During the speech, Graves announced a new budget, which would restore $3 million in mental health grants; $1.5 million in grants for developmentally disabled people; and $4.4 million in funding for the Senior Care Act, which gives seniors the opportunity to stay at home and “preserves the financial and personal dignity of [elderly] Kansans.”
Graves offered no indication of where the money was coming from.
Gov. Paul Patton (D) has proposed a $14.4 billion budget, a two-year spending plan based on transferring funds from a variety of programs, including health care services.
For example, $49 million would be taken from Kentucky Access, the newly established high-risk insurance pool that provides health insurance to residents who are uninsurable in the private market. The state’s Medicaid program faces a possible $200 million budget shortfall and could be subject to cuts in services. Massachusetts
An 11 percent increase in funding for the state’s Medicaid program was mandated by the federal government and would be paid for by delaying payments to the state’s pension fund and a cutback on lottery prizes.
Acting Gov. Jane Swift’s (R) fiscal year 2003 budget proposal would increase overall Medicaid program spending. Her plan also calls for the elimination of dental benefits.
Swift’s budget plan also calls for cutting $50 million from public health outreach and education programs and $29 million from anti-smoking efforts. The budget proposal would cut $11 million from disease screening and prevention programs.
In her State of the State speech, Swift noted the state has been assisting in “the national effort to combat terrorism.” Swift also announced the creation of a Bioterrorism Council, to be led by the state Director of Commonwealth Security.
The Boston Herald reported Swift’s speech “was notable for the issues she glossed over,” including rising prescription drug costs. Swift did acknowledge the state faces a health care crisis in the capital city and statewide.
Gov. George Pataki’s (R) $88.6 billion budget proposal for the fiscal year beginning in April includes a $3 billion increase in health care spending.
Much of the health care spending in Pataki’s budget is based on a package that, in part, would pay for wage increases for union health care workers. The state legislature recently approved that package.
The increase in health care appropriations comes at the expense of other parts of the budget. Health care was protected from cuts by transferring money from other budget items.
The budget is also based on Pataki’s assumption that the state will receive more than $800 million in federal Medicaid funds. HHS officials, however, have said that level of funding is not likely. Pataki also has said he wants to use $646 million of the state’s $3 billion rainy-day fund.
Despite a $1.1 billion budget shortfall this year, Gov. Scott McCallum’s (R) plan to balance the budget saves the $2.7 billion the state has earmarked for health and social service programs in this fiscal year and next.
No cuts were made to programs such as BadgerCare, which provides health insurance for low-income residents ineligible for Medicaid, and FamilyCare, which provides long-term care services.
In addition, McCallum’s budget plan keeps $5.8 million in grants to the Marquette University Dental School and funds programs for women’s health screenings, pregnancy counseling, and cancer screenings. McCallum’s budget also protects Community Options and the Community Integration Program, two long-term care assistance programs.
McCallum’s budget cuts the state’s revenue-sharing program with cities and counties. This, in turn, may force localities to curtail programs for people with disabilities or the elderly.
The State Legislative Update is compiled from a wide range of news sources, including the Council for Affordable Health Care (CAHI) http://www.cahi.org; the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) http://nahu.org; Bizjournals at http://bizjournals.com; Stateline at http://stateline.org and Lexis/Nexis research.