13 States Cutting Medicaid Benefits

Friday, August 3rd, 2012
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

Despite a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) reported here touting the benefits of expanded Medicaid for the elderly and disabled, many states are cutting Medicaid benefits in order to balance their budgets.

The findings, drawn from a recent 50-state survey by Kaiser Health News for USA Today, show that 13 states have taken steps to make the cuts, now that the Supreme Court has ruled that states have the option to do so. The states are cutting Medicaid either by lowering fees paid to medical providers, reducing benefits, or tightening eligibility for the health insurance program for the poor and disabled. Most changes went into effect July 1, though some take effect later this year and some are pending federal approval.

The states that have cut, or will cut, benefits are:

  • Alabama
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut (potential cuts this fall)
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • New Hampshire
  • South Dakota
  • Wisconsin

As states cut Medicaid payments to hospitals and physicians, some are concerned it could make it that much harder to expand the program in 2014 under the ACA, news reports state, with some providers unwilling to accept new Medicaid patients.

In the first published study since the Supreme Court’s ruling on the effect of recent state Medicaid expansions on mortality among low-income adults, HSPH suggests that expanding coverage to the uninsured may save lives. The groups that benefited from the expansion the most are those that traditionally had higher mortality rates and faced greater barriers to care. Since states have the option to expand their Medicaid coverage, researchers hope this study will help state policymakers in their decisions.

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