As Economy Falters, Many States Cut Back on Medicaid

by Lesley Politi on January 7, 2009

As Economy Falters, Many States Cut Back on Medicaid

Many states are cutting back on Medicaid as revenue falls and more people are out of work and without private health insurance, the Washington Post reports. Nineteen states have already lowered payments made to nursing homes and hospitals and ended coverage of certain treatments. Some states have stopped payments for services that the federal government doesn’t require them to cover, such as physical therapy, hospice care, hearing aids, and eyeglasses. A couple of states are asking poor people to contribute more to the cost of their care, and many states are now paring back on enrolling optional patients. States, which share responsibility for Medicaid with the federal government, must meet basic federal requirements for who can enroll in the program and what services must be covered. About 50 million Americans were covered by Medicaid last year.

Read a U.S. News primer on the Medicaid rulebook. Schools have also faced a cut in Medicaid funding.

Michael Jackson, Health Rumors, and Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency

Claims are swirling that Michael Jackson may—or may not—be gravely ill and in need of a lung transplant because of a rare genetic condition called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. Whether the King of Pop is breathing easy or gasping to hit a high note, the buzz has certainly cast a spotlight on a little-discussed disorder that can lead to lung disease in adults, Lindsay Lyon reports. Learn more about the lung disorder in a U.S. News interview with Mark Wewers, a pulmonologist who is a professor of medicine at Ohio State University Medical Center. Wewers started working with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency 25 years ago; he now runs a specialty clinic for affected patients.

Michael isn’t the only Jackson to battle health issues recently. His sister Janet had a bout with vestibular migraines earlier this year.

Healthcare Conscience Rule Could Stir Legal Backlash

Women’s groups, state governments, and a host of others have reacted harshly to the new conscience rights regulation put forth by the Department of Health and Human Services last week. The National Family and Reproductive Health Association stated that the “new regulations will limit access to contraception to low-income and uninsured women and men and will create new hurdles for family-planning service providers,” Deborah Kotz reports. The National Partnership for Women and Families noted, “These regulations leave the term ‘abortion’ undefined, so individuals and institutions are free to classify birth control as abortion.” And the ACLU also expressed its “grave concern.”

Earlier, U.S. News explained how the new rule could limit women’s access to birth control and explored whether contraception is sometimes abortion.

—January W. Payne


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