Medicaid

(Courtesy Missouri Foundation for Health)

A new report by the Missouri Foundation for Health estimates that about two-thirds of Missouri's more than 800,000 uninsured could get health insurance under the federal health care law  - and the county-level data suggest that rural counties will benefit the most.

The analysis uses census data to project how the number of uninsured could change in every county in Missouri under the Affordable Care Act.

File photo

House Speaker Steven Tilley says there is no need for a special session to decide whether Missouri should opt out of a Medicaid expansion.

This story will be updated.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed nearly $1.6 billion worth of cuts to Medicaid into law.

His signature means that nearly 25,000 working parents will lose state-funded health care on July 1. Regular dental care is being eliminated for adults. Those who need eyeglasses will be able to get a new pair once every two years. And patients who take more than four prescription drugs will have to get prior approval from the state.

Quinn this morning also signed a dollar-a-pack increase in the state’s cigarette tax.

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The Illinois House has agreed to raise tobacco taxes as part of a plan to strengthen the state Medicaid program.

The tax increase passed 60-52 Friday. It now goes to the Senate, which has backed similar increases in the past.

It more than doubles the tax on cigarettes, to $1.98 a pack. Other tobacco products would see a similar tax increase.

It also would create a special tax on hospitals that would then be matched by the federal government and returned to the state.

In all, it's supposed to raise $800 million a year for the Medicaid program.

(via Flickr/CarbonNYC)

Updated 5:25 a.m. Friday with final vote information. Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Brian Mackey was used in this story.

Just before 7 p.m. Thursday, the Illinois Senate approved the cuts by a vote of 44-13.

African-American lawmakers continued their opposition to the cuts, saying they fall disproportionately on their constituents.

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Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster says the state's Medicaid program will receive about $42,000 from a national legal settlement with Walgreen Co.

The settlement resolves complaints that Walgreen's improperly tried to get people to switch their prescriptions to its pharmacies. The company has agreed to pay civil damages totaling $7.9 million to states and the federal government.

Koster says that from early 2005 to June 2010, Walgreen Co. offered gift cards and gift checks to people who receive government health care to entice them to transfer their prescriptions.

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Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky reported for this story.

Legislators' initial plans for reducing Illinois' Medicaid expenses have been unveiled - but other controversial aspects of the savings plan have yet to be filed as legislation.

A portion of the estimated savings comes from kicking undeserving recipients off the rolls. 

Illinois would no longer just assume people remain eligible for Medicaid, a practice Senator Heather Steans, a Chicago Democrat, says has caused skepticism.

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Reporting from Amanda Vinicky was used in this story.

Like its counterpart in Missouri, the Illinois General Assembly is heading into the home stretch.

Lawmakers there have a bit more time to get through their agenda - their session isn't scheduled to end until the end of May. But unlike lawmakers in Missouri, Illinois legislators have a monumental task in front of them - passing a state budget.

Most state agencies will have their budget cut by 9 percent.

(via Flickr/Senator Roy Blunt)

Missouri U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R) briefly addressed the Missouri House today.

Blunt spent most of his nine-minute speech criticizing government growth and overregulation.  He was especially critical of the federal government’s attempts to regulate family farms.

"We don’t need people in Washington DC deciding what farm kids can do on family farms," Blunt said to applause.  "We don’t need the EPA trying to spend all this time figuring out how you can farm without dust.”

(via Wikimedia Commons)

Gov. Pat Quinn says saving the Illinois Medicaid program will require cutting services, raising cigarette taxes and cutting payments to health-care providers.

Aides to the Democratic governor told The Associated Press on Thursday that Quinn is proposing a cigarette tax increase of $1 per pack. They expect the tax to generate about $337 million, which would then be matched by the federal government.

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Hundreds of thousands of low-income Missourians can begin enrolling in new Medicaid insurance plans Thursday, despite a lingering lawsuit seeking to halt the process.

In a deposition obtained by The Associated Press, state Medicaid director Ian McCaslin said it would create a "nuclear scenario" for the program if a judge grants an injunction blocking the state from implementing its new Medicaid managed care contracts.

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Amanda Vinicky contributed reporting from Springfield.

Ill. lawmakers have packed agenda when they return to Springfield

State lawmakers in Illinois have about seven weeks left to untangle a host of thorny problems.

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Illinois lawmakers say a cigarette tax increase is on the table as a bipartisan committee strains to find $2.7 billion in cuts to the Illinois Medicaid program.

Two Republicans and two Democrats are charged with finding a deal. But they're confronting fundamental differences, including disagreement on the cigarette tax.

Democratic Sen. Heather Steans says Gov. Pat Quinn's administration floated a proposal that included $1.3 billion in cuts to Medicaid program spending, a $1 per pack increase in the cigarette tax and rate cuts to health care providers.

via Flickr | jennlynndesign

Budget writers in the Missouri Senate have passed that chamber’s version of the state budget for next year.

The Senate plan is about $86 million smaller than the version passed by the House last month.  Cuts include $13 million from child care provider grants, $7 million from other childcare services, and $1 million from meals at state prisons.  Budget Chairman Kurt Schaefer (R, Columbia) acknowledges that many of the cuts target Medicaid.

Flickr/rosemary

State officials: Mo. tightening Medicaid eligibility criteria

Low-income seniors and the disabled can qualify for Medicaid, even if their income is higher than the program's limits. They can do so by making a monthly payment to the state or by spending their excess income on medical bills.

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An adviser to Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn says lawmakers would have to choose everything on a list of possible Medicaid cuts to get to the $2.7 billion proposed by the governor.

Among the options on a list prepared by Quinn's administration is a 9 percent reduction in payments to hospitals, doctors and pharmacies.

The list includes changing eligibility rules for nursing homes and at-home help so that some incontinent elderly people who can't prepare their own meals would be denied state-financed care.

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Gov. Pat Quinn says he'll propose closing "quite a few" Illinois state facilities in his budget address next week.

Quinn, a Democrat, did not give the Associated Press any specifics about the closures, saying details will come during his budget address next Wednesday.

Flickr/jglazer75

Spring session kicks off today in Illinois

Legislative leaders say budget items are expected to top the agenda in the coming weeks. Those items include the state's troubled pension system and Medicaid costs.

House Deputy Majority leader, Democrat Frank Mautino, says Medicaid reform could end up being more controversial than pensions. Mautino says payment cycles are stretching too long and that cuts have to be made.

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Missouri will receive nearly $14 million, as part of a settlement of a multi-state lawsuit against drug manufacturer Merck.

The lawsuit centers on the prescription drug Vioxx, which the company marketed as a painkiller for people diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.  Merck has agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor for promoting the drug before receiving FDA approval, and it will pay $950 million in criminal and civil penalties.  The company halted sales of Vioxx in 2004 after evidence showed the drug doubled the risk of heart attack and stroke.

(via Flickr/rosmary)

A Missouri health official says the state could need as many as 130 temporary workers to evaluate the needs of thousands of Medicaid patients after an outside contractor quit.

Indiana-based SynCare LLC quit after three months amid complaints about its service and disagreement with Missouri officials.

(via Flickr/rosmary)

Updated 4:25 p.m. with comments from Mo. House Budget Chairman Ryan Silvey (R, Kansas City), who also oversees an interim committee looking into complaints against SynCare.

The State of Missouri is taking over the duties of SynCare, an Indianapolis-based company which won a contract in February worth as much as $5.5 million a year to determine whether thousands of Missouri Medicaid recipients qualify for home-based medical services or help with daily chores. 

(via Flickr/ChrisEaves.com)

Reporting by Illinois Public Radio’s Amanda Vinicky used in this report.

The cuts Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn made to hospitals probably won’t be the final deal. The administration is using the move in an effort to further its agenda.

Illinois reimburses hospitals when they take on low-income patients who are on Medicaid, and state law sets the rate hospitals are to be paid.

(via Flickr/jennlynndesign)

Governor Jay Nixon (D) has signed Missouri’s $23 billion budget for the next fiscal year into law – but he’s also slashed $172 million from the spending plan that takes effect July first.

Nixon says the cuts are needed not only to keep the state budget balanced, but to also help cover storm damage costs.

(via Flickr/CarbonNYC)

The Missouri Senate has passed legislation extending several health care taxes that help generate about $3 billion annually for state's Medicaid program.

The special taxes are levied on such things hospitals, nursing homes and pharmacies. They are used to draw down federal Medicaid money, which is then distributed to health care providers through various programs.

Missouri's health care taxes are to expire Sept. 30.

  • January continues to be a snowy, slipper month for the St. Louis area. Several accidents are being reported this morning, and several schools are closed - many for the third in a row. The latest problems come after about an inch of snow fell yesterday, followed by a light freezing drizzle this morning. The Missouri State Highway Patrol said interstates 64 and 70 in parts of St. Louis and St. Charles are particularly slick.
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