The Medicaid crunch | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Medicaid crunch

Posted By on Wed, Feb 17, 2010 at 8:53 AM

I mentioned a while back that the Medicaid funding crisis could be the next big state government story. So it would appear. Front-page in today's Democrat-Gazette (sub. reqd.) is a pleading from Sen. Randy Laverty, more or less an in-chamber lobbyist for various Medicaid providers, for more legislative input as the Beebe administration moves to cut $400 million in Medicaid spending next year. Seems reasonable. It always seemed weird to me that a giant spending reduction affecting thousands of employees and customers might be left to determination AFTER the so-called fiscal session.

Anyway. Some suggestions:

1) Gov. Mike Beebe is four years past due addressing Arkansas's grotesque overspending -- relative to other states -- on residential child psychiatric services supported by Medicaid. Secretive political power broker Ted Suhl is the leading harvester of this money (from out-patient services, too), but he is by no means alone. Are these people untouchable? It would appear so, despite repeated professional assessments that there's little justification for Arkansas spending at levels greater than much larger states. A reminder of this issue (and attendant religion-tainted scandal) from last year's Times, by Mary Jacoby and Leslie Newell Peacock.

2) You wouldn't have to scratch too hard, governor, to find some people at Human Services who think it's also past time to go after some economies in the Nick Wilson Memorial therapeutic daycare program, another growing Medicaid-funded endeavor from which convicted felon Wilson's family still happens to benefit.

3) Nobody wants to take on the nursing home lobby, but has anybody taken a hard, audited look at claimed cost increases? Just curious.

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