Thursday, February 7, 2008

Changes In Medicaid Could Hit Elderly Hard

AUGUSTA ,Maine.USA — Changes in Medicaid rules coming out of Washington could mean a cut of $186 million in federal funds now used for services provided to the elderly..according to Victoria Wallack

The estimated cuts break down to $45 million directly from state coffers in the current budget — including money to pay for case management provided by state employees — and another $141 million for services provided in the community by assisted living homes..

While state administrators knew of the pending cuts as early as last fall, they had hoped for some congressional intervention. Now one of the rules, limiting reimbursement for case managers, is scheduled to go into effect on March 1. Federal audits have discovered problems with the way states, including Maine, have been billing for case managers in recent years.

It also could mean a $100 million cut to assisted living facilities housing the elderly and disabled.

“If these changes are allowed, families and elders will be put at risk, more people will end up in shelters, on the streets, in hospitals or in jail,” Baldacci said.

In a background paper discussing the proposed rule, the federal Medicaid office said it was cracking down on “widespread improper billing,” found by Government Accountability Office (GAO) audits.

“The news of these federal rule changes is a blow to Maine’s most vulnerable people. I cannot stress too much that we must put all options on the table to work through these challenging times,” Edmonds said.

Abridged because of space limitations please read article here =>>

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