Hospital stays get restricted Medicaid coverage

Hospitals must find more ways to cope with Medicaid cuts, as several states are severely restricting hospital stays, report Kaiser Health News and USA Today.

At the end of this month, Medicaid will pay for only 25 days of hospital stays a year for adult Medicaid recipients in Arizona. Hospitals in Hawaii will see the sharpest cut, as the state plans to limit Medicaid coverage to only 10 days a year in April 2012.

Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, and Mississippi already have capped their Medicaid hospital coverage to 16 days, 24 days, 45 days, and 30 days, respectively, notes the article.

States claim that limiting hospital stays will rein in escalating Medicaid costs; however, hospitals may end up footing the bill. Thanks to the 16-day limit in Alabama, hospitals have billed patients for days not covered by Medicaid and had to pick up the cost for poor patients unable to pay.

"We can't kick out patients if they need care from a medical standpoint," Brian Turney, CEO of Kingman Regional Medical Center in northwestern Arizona, told KHN. "We are going to just get stuck eating the cost as uncompensated care."

Turney expects the hospital coverage limit to cost his rural hospital more than $1 million a year while state officials estimate it will save $94 million in Medicaid spending in fiscal 2012.

Patients are growing critical of state Medicaid cuts. For instance, Wisconsin's Department of Health Services received 2,000 signatures from residents who are concerned and frustrated about plans to slash Medicaid spending, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

For more information:
- read the Kaiser Health News article
- here's the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article