States grapple with Medicaid budgets

Thursday, March 31, 2005

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — AAHomecare has been tracking the Medicaid funding situation across the country and recently offered this status report on selected states:
— In New York, Medicaid spending has risen 46% in the past five years and now accounts for 44% of the state budget.
— New Hampshire Governor Craig Benson announced a program called HomeCare Works, which would train welfare recipients to become healthcare workers and provide homecare. The program follows a 1998 effort in New Hampshire to expand homecare to take pressure off county nursing homes.
— Outgoing Wisconsin Governor James Doyle also recently announced plans to increase use of homecare as an alternative to nursing homes.
— TennCare, Tennessee’s Medicaid program, recently reported that it will cut enrollment by more than 300,000. The plan is focused on limits to physician visits, hospital stays, outpatient services and pharmacy prescriptions to help rescue the program. Gayla Sasser, executive director of the Tennessee Association for Home Care, said “No announcements have been made that would alter Governor Phil Bredesen’s emphasis on home and community-based programs as a cost-effective service for both short and long-term care.”
—Facing a huge budget shortfall, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has called for rolling back state funds for home health workers in the state’s in-home supportive services from $10.10 to $6.75 an hour, the minimum wage.