NC Medicaid program $160M over budget

North Carolina, like many states, is grappling with high unemployment and a growing number of low income families--as well as seniors and disabled--that need Medicaid. Expenditures have risen by 9 percent according to Health and Human Services Secretary Lanier Cansler. The state has approximately 1.6 million Medicaid enrollees. This is 18,000 more enrollees than the state had budgeted for.

As a result, state spending for Medicaid alone is at least $160 million over budget for this fiscal year. The state's Division of Medical Assistance has established new budget initiatives to help save money. However, Cansler says that it's not unlikely that Medicaid spending in North Carolina will end up being more than $200 million over the state's $2.3 billion budget. In addition, more Medicaid patients than anticipated have been treated for the swine flu.

Cansler adds that Medicaid program cost controls directed by lawmakers for his department to implement as early as Sept. 1 haven't been approved by federal Medicaid regulators.

"It's very disturbing because we've got a budget crisis already," said Sen. Bill Purcell, D-Scotland, co-chairman of the budget subcommittee that determines spending for Medicaid. "We're going to see more people losing their health insurance due to losing their jobs." 

For more:
- read this Associated Press story
- also see the North Carolina Department of Medical Assistance revised budget initiatives