Safety nets ask state for limited enrollees to curb Medicaid costs

A group of safety-net hospitals that serve Chicago's vulnerable populations proposed a plan that will cut Medicaid spending by $1.4 billion, reported Crain's Chicago Business.

In particular, the Association of Safety-Net Hospitals is asking Illinois officials to maximize revenues to Medicaid while restricting enrollment in the program--moves it says would not reduce reimbursement rates or healthcare services.

According to the safety nets, the state needs to seek federal matching funds more aggressively for current Health and Family Service Department programs to help close the budget gap. The safety nets also called on the state to strictly impose Medicaid eligibility requirements, as up to 300,000 beneficiaries don't meet them and cost the state $720 million a year, reported the Associated Press.

The safety-net hospitals also want a $10 copay for Medicaid patients who use the emergency department for nonurgent issues, noted the AP.

However, state health officials are rejecting the plan, citing "unrealistic numbers," according to the article.

Meanwhile, a report earlier this month from the Commonwealth Fund offers strategies to help safety-net hospitals continue to treat poor and uninsured patients. The report calls on state Medicaid departments to increase reimbursements for safety-net hospitals serving the largest numbers of Medicaid patients, as well as more precise targeting of Medicare and Medicaid disproportionate share hospital payments.

For more information:
- read the Crain's Chicago Business article
- here's the AP article
- check out the report (.pdf)