Recession-Battered States Slash Medicaid
Governments lower payments, cut add-ons to health program
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 26, 2008 7:14 AM CST
Dr. Kevin Work examines Claudia Cruz in his office in New Orleans earlier this month.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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(Newser) – As states across the country struggle to cope with staggering budget shortfalls, 19 of them have cut back on Medicaid, reports the Washington Post. The states, along with DC, are lowering payments to hospitals and nursing homes, ending coverage for less common treatments, and booting some citizens out of the program entirely. "It's not a pretty list at all," said the director of Utah's Medicaid program.

Some are booting payments for any services not required by the federal government, including physical therapy, glasses, hearing aids and hospice care. The program is the largest or second-largest item on every state's budget, and governors have been pleading with Washington, which now pays 57% of the bills, for help. Some relief may come in January. The incoming Obama administration has signaled that it may pick up the Medicaid tab for unemployed workers who have lost health benefits.