High Court to Review Medicaid Fees
By Christine Vestal, Staff Writer
ON THE DOCKET: The U.S. Supreme Court announced last week that it would decide whether California and other cash-poor states can cut the fees they pay doctors and hospitals, the Los Angeles Times reported . Cutting those payments is one of the only ways states can make a substantial dent in their ballooning Medicaid costs. On the other hand, if states cut them too far, they risk driving doctors and hospitals out of the program altogether. Lower courts have ruled that California couldn't lower fees on the grounds that it would limit access to care. The federal Medicaid law is unclear on the issue.
MORE GOVS SUE: The November elections drew six more states into Florida's lawsuit against national health care reform, according to The Miami Herald . The new states — Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Ohio, Wisconsin and Wyoming — are ones where GOP governors or attorneys general replaced Democrats. That makes 26 states signed onto the case, which argues that the Affordable Care Act violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution by forcing people to purchase a health insurance policy or face a fine. The case also argues that federally mandated expansion of Medicaid violates states rights. Virginia and Oklahoma have filed separate lawsuits.
ARIZONA WAIVER : GOP governors already have asked the Obama administration to ease a restriction in the new health care reform law that prevents states from cutting Medicaid enrollment between now and 2014. But Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is expected to be the first to take the case directly to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She wants permission to slice $1 billion from her Medicaid budget by cutting 280,000 low-income, childless adults from the rolls, The Washington Post reported. Brewer is expected to seek the waiver this week.
ABORTION CURBS: Invigorated by the November elections, conservative lawmakers in dozens of states are launching campaigns to limit abortions, the New York Times reports. In Florida and Kansas, for example, legislators are expected to reintroduce bills that were vetoed by the previous governors. Other states where both the legislature and governor are now anti-abortion include Georgia, Maine, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, according to a new analysis by Naral Pro-Choice America , the Times reported.
NEW YORK HOSPITALS: Struggling with a $10 billion budget deficit for the coming year, New York's Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo has said he may cut Medicaid spending by as much as $3 billion. That could mean one-third of New York City's private hospitals would lose their life support, the New York Post reported.