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New DHW web page looking for ideas to fill $247 million Medicaid gap

New DHW web page looking for ideas to fill $247 million Medicaid gap

Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
May 3, 2010

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) launched a new web page asking citizens and health care providers for their proposals for how to reduce Medicaid spending by $247 million, to fill a projected deficit in the next fiscal year.  The new page, part of DHW's website, includes online surveys for Medicaid providers and non-providers that asks how the state should meet its smaller spending plan and what areas of Medicaid spending are ineffective. The site also shows a calendar of upcoming meetings and video conferences between DHW and providers or community groups about Medicaid's next budget year.

“Meeting the deficit is going to be a challenge for all of us, so we want the process to be as open and transparent as possible for the public and our Medicaid community of providers,” says Leslie Clement, administrator of Idaho Medicaid. “We know we have some tough decisions to make and hope that an open and collaborative process will help us arrive with the best possible solutions. The alternative is cutting services, which none of us wants to do.”

Medicaid provides health care services for low-income children and adults as well as people with disabilities and other special health needs. The state currently funds 21 percent of Medicaid costs, with the federal government providing the rest. State lawmakers approved reducing the Medicaid budget earlier this year, and gave DHW the authority to find some of the savings.  Idaho will spend $298 million on Medicaid in the next fiscal year, which starts on July 1.

DHW spokesman Tom Shanahan told IdahoReporter.com that changes to Medicaid will likely need to be decided on by the end of the month.  DHW has already announced it will reduce its Medicaid staff by 33, which is 12 percent of the Medicaid division's workforce.  Private providers offer most of the medical services for people on Medicaid.

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