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Yesterday Governor Rell released a proposal to mitigate the state budget deficit for the current fiscal year that ends June 30th estimated at $1.1 billion and growing. She wants the legislature to act on it next Wednesday. While her proposals look very familiar, this is not the same as the cuts she proposed earlier this month for the two-year budget that starts July 1st. For this year, she has proposed that the legislature agree to cut most dental services to adults – people can only get care when their teeth get bad enough to be an emergency – and she wants to require prior authorization for the services left for children. She also wants to cut services to legal immigrants – again the only time they can get care is when a health problem has gotten bad enough to be an emergency. (FYI – The federal SCHIP bill that passed earlier this month allows the state 65% reimbursement to cover legal immigrants, so we’d only save 35 cents for every dollar cut). She wants to increase HUSKY Part B premiums for kids. She wants to weaken the definition of medical necessity – the guidance used to decide if patients get treatment. She has proposed a host of pharmacy cuts that echo her budget proposal for next year – prior authorization expansions, making it more difficult to get refills, reimbursement cuts, no over-the-counter drugs, among others. She also wants to cut funding that the legislature added for community health centers who always pick up the slack when the state cuts other health care funding.
Ellen Andrews