Monday, January 03, 2005

State Medicaid Watch: Nevada

The disability law issue of the year could be the pressures put on Medicaid by tight state and federal budgets. Because "optional" services for people with disabilities often are among the costliest items in a state's Medicaid budget, those services are likely to be major targets for proposals to cut program costs. Here's an article about the incipient Medicaid cut debate in New Mexico. A few grafs, which illustrate the problem for people with disabilities:

But the bad news is the rising cost of providing medical care under Medicaid, a state and federally shared program for the elderly, disabled and poor.

"The cost of providing care is the primary driver of the Medicaid budget," said Charles Duarte, administrator of the Division of Health Care Financing and Policy, which oversees the Medicaid program.

Though some welfare recipients qualify for Medicaid coverage, care for the aged and disabled populations is pushing program costs higher, he said. Welfare recipients make up 54 percent of Medicaid's caseload but consume only 20 percent of the cost of care, Duarte said.

* * *

Sen. Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas, said that as a member of the Finance Committee, he will scrutinize the Medicaid budget closely to determine if there are ways to save money. Beers was critical of the size of the Medicaid budget and its projected caseloads in the 2003 session when he was in the Assembly.

"The statistics show we have a far richer Medicaid system per beneficiary than surrounding states," he said. "We have added optional Medicaid programs that other states have not. I have asked (legislative staff) to put a number on that. We'll just have to see what the mood of the Legislature is."


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