Budget Cuts Threaten Medicaid

September 29, 2015

NBC Connecticut

Community Health Centers in Connecticut could see the true impact of state budget revisions that the governor and his administration announced ten days ago. (Published Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015)
Updated at 8:25 AM EDT on Tuesday, Sep 29, 2015

Community Health Centers in Connecticut could see the true impact of state budget cuts the governor and his administration announced 10 days ago.

Doug Bruce, chief of medicine at the Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center in New Haven, said his facility might see more Medicaid patients if federal reimbursements are cut and more private doctors in Connecticut refuse to take Medicaid patients.

“Every doctor has to pay the light bill. Everyone has to pay for the building, so if you’re going to see two patients for the same problem, one patient has Medicaid and the other has private insurance, the economics of it drives the better remuneration,” he said.

Bruce said such decisions stress resources at community health centers and clinics for people who need healthcare services.

“Patients ask, ‘Why can’t I see my provider who I’ve seen every year for however many years?’ Well, there are all of these new patients coming in. I can’t presume why those patients are sending them in our direction but frequently it’s been one of reimbursement,” Bruce said.

The Medicaid issue is significant because the budget cuts the Malloy administration announced struck Medicaid the hardest, at more than $60 million.

According to some estimates, the figure is far higher because those Medicaid cuts cause the state to be disqualified for federal matching funds.

The governor defended the cuts on Monday and added that the rescissions are responsible given current fiscal conditions affecting the state’s investment performance.

“I would say that the last 90 days on the stock market have been extraordinary and any state that’s not taking that into account is making a mistake” Gov. Dannel Malloy said on Monday. “We are certainly taking it into account which is why I announced the first round of rescissions.”

Republicans criticized the governor on Monday, saying he’s using the stock market as a scapegoat for a budget that he knew wasn’t in balance when it was passed back in June.

“They knew they were out of whack” said Sen. Len Fasano, (R-Durham), the top Republican in the Connecticut Senate. “I thought it was going to be January, February, not the first three months.”

Fasano said the governor and top Democrats have refused to admit the state has a budget problem that goes far beyond expenditures and revenues.

“I think it’s egos. I really do. I think it’s the inability to say, I messed up.”

Malloy pointed out that spending growth has been slower under his administration than previous governors, many of whom include Republicans.

The governor also said more budget cuts “are a very real possibility.”

Democratic Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey criticized the GOP’s call for a Special Session to look at the budget and make changes and said Fasano and Republicans were “not responsible” because any changes could simply be trimmed at a rate of 5 percent by the governor.

Sharkey said he wants to come up with a group of alternative to the governor’s cuts and is looking forward to seeing proposals from Fasano and his GOP colleagues.