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Thursday, January 21, 2010 - 11:25am

Medicaid To Face $506 Million Shortfall In 2011

The state needs to come up with $506 million to keep its Medicaid program afloat in 2011. That was the message from the state's community health commissioner.

Rhonda Meadows spoke to lawmakers today at budget hearings and urged them to raise taxes.

Meadows says the shortfall comes as federal stimulus money runs out.

“I have honestly done my homework again and again, I cannot find $506 million to fill that hole. That is why we got to the point where I have to ask you to consider very strongly the use of taxes."

Governor Perdue is proposing a 1.6% fee on hospitals and health insurance companies to make up for the loss.

Many lawmakers are resisting that idea and looking for alternatives like lowering the amount of money doctors and hospitals get for treating Medicaid patients.

Chairman of the Health Subcommittee in House Appropriations Mickey Channel says, the options aren’t pretty.

"The problem is we pay providers now 84 cents on dollar at the current level, so none of our choices are very good," says Channel. "It’s like... do you want to be electrocuted or have lethal injections... it's all bad."

Meadows says the state already pays providers less than other states do, and Georgia would lose some of them if it cut their reimbursement rate.

Medicaid serves 1.4 million people in Georgia.

Because the state accepted $1.7 billion in federal stimulus, it cannot cut people from the Medicaid rolls.

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