State Medicaid program faces sudden $45M deficit

The state of Wisconsin planned a significant portion of its Medicaid budget around a $45 million payment from the Obama Administration. With news that that check is no longer in the mail, lawmakers must address the sudden shortfall, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Wisconsin is trying to cut $220 million from its Medicaid budget. It based recent planning on the federal payment, which the Badger State--and many others--believed it was owed due to errors in handling the costs for disabled Medicaid enrollees, notes the article.

However, Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius notified Wisconsin last week that she lacked the statutory authority to make the payments, and that no money would be forthcoming anytime soon.

At the moment, state officials have no contingency plan to make up the new shortfall. "It's too soon to push the panic button but it's definitely wise to prepare assuming the money won't come," said Robin Vos, a Republican lawmaker.

"What reason did they have to rely on this? Everybody I talked to shook their head and said not likely or not likely in the short run or not likely unless Congress passes a law," said David Riemer, director of the Community Advocates Public Policy Institute in Milwaukee. "They're being told in advance that they're not going to get that money."

For more information:
- read the Journal-Sentinel article
- read the Associated Press article