Medicaid seeks budget lifeline, Officials ask providers to continue giving patients care

A budget shortfall is prompting Medicaid to stop paying providers as the current fiscal year winds down, and the leader of a doctors’ group warns services could be affected if a state budget isn’t quickly adopted.

But Gov. Haley Barbour and his political opponents provided no clues Friday on when their months-long budget battle may end. The Republican governor and Democratic House Speaker Billy McCoy instead held separate news conferences to reiterate their differences over a nearly $5 billion spending plan for the next fiscal year, and a hospital tax hike to pay for the health-care program is at the top of the list.

Medicaid faces a $34 million deficit as the fiscal year ends June 30 because of an increase in beneficiaries that was higher than anticipated this spring. Medicaid officials are asking providers to continue serving patients even though they won’t be reimbursed over the next 10 days.

Barbour said the announcement “will not affect any services.” But Dr. Randy Easterling, president of the 3,800-member Mississippi State Medical Association, said the lack of payment will be “very difficult” for providers serving a large number of Medicaid patients, such as those in Vicksburg and the Delta.

Clarion-Ledger
6/20/9

Hat tip Greg Snowden’s Twitter