- Governors differ on extent of flexibility for Medicaid, By Amy Goldstein and Dan Balz, February 28, 2011, Washington Post: “Democratic and Republican governors, burdened by crushing budget pressures from Medicaid, said Sunday that federal officials should allow them more freedom to change eligibility rules and other aspects of the public health insurance program for the poor. But they displayed sharp ideological differences over how far such flexibility should go. After a series of private conversations at the National Governors Association’s semiannual meeting over the weekend, leaders of the group formed a bipartisan committee to explore in detail what kind of flexibility over Medicaid the governors can agree to seek from federal health officials. It remains unclear whether they will be able to forge such common ground, given their partisan disagreements over both Medicaid and the new federal law to reshape the health-care system. ‘The closer governors get to Washington, the more they start acting like members of Congress,’ said Oregon Gov. John A. Kitzhaber (D), vice chairman of the NGA’s Health and Human Services Committee, referring to the rancorous debate over health care that persists on Capitol Hill.
- Governors: Medicaid more a budget buster than ever, By Julie Rovner, February 28, 2011, National Public Radio: “The federal government and the states have shared the cost of Medicaid, the health insurance program for some 60 million low-income Americans, since it was created in 1965. They’ve shared something else almost that long – arguments about who should foot how much of the ever-escalating bill. ‘Medicaid cost growth has been a problem for time immemorial,’ says Alan Weil, executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy. But this time, he says, things are different. For one thing, ‘the program is bigger, so growth on a larger base is more real dollars that’s harder to find…’”
Lawmakers poised to privatize Medicaid statewide, By Kelli Kennedy (AP), February 28, 2011, Miami Herald: “Jason Rosenstock typically waits six weeks to see a specialist to treat his pituitary disease, a side effect from a childhood brain tumor. The private insurance company managing his care for Medicaid has repeatedly denied his medications, each denial eliciting a mountain of red tape. The 33-year-old and his mother kept a journal of every phone call and e-mail detailing their fight the past few years as Rosenstock has been bounced between three different health plans. Rosenstock lives in Broward County, the largest of five counties participating in a 2006 pilot program implemented under former Gov. Jeb Bush that puts Medicaid recipients into privately managed care. Gov. Rick Scott and Republican lawmakers want to expand the program statewide during the upcoming legislative session, which begins March 8. Lawmakers say Florida must overhaul Medicaid or its rising costs, which are expected to top $21 billion next year, will overwhelm the budget. The program has nearly 3 million low-income and disabled residents, with the federal government paying more than half the bill. The state is trying to eliminate a $3.6 billion budget deficit…”
Number of children abused or neglected in Colorado rises, By Karen Auge, February 28, 2011, Denver Post: “The number of abused or neglected children in Colorado has risen over the past three years, even as the numbers in other states have declined – with 36 children killed by abuse in 2009, up from 27 in 2007. After a dip between 2006 and 2007, the rates of confirmed child abuse and neglect in the state have increased: from 8.3 per 1,000 in 2007, to 8.6 in 2008, to 9.1 per 1,000 in 2009, the latest year for which statistics are available. In 2009, 11,339 of Colorado’s 1.2 million children were maltreated, 641 more than the previous year, according to data collected by the Colorado Department of Human Services child welfare division and provided by the Kempe Center, which treats abused children. During the past two years, 1,236 additional children were abused and neglected compared with 2007. It is not uncommon for more children to get hurt by adults when a stalled economy piles stress on a family, child welfare experts say. Still, states across the country – states where the economy is as bad as or worse than it is in Colorado – reported decreases…”