Ark. lowers Medicaid shortfall projection to $61M

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 31, 2013 at 3:54 pm •  Published: January 31, 2013

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Medicaid officials said Thursday they're no longer proposing cuts to nursing home care and three other areas after lowering the projected shortfall the program faces next year to $61 million.

The Department of Human Services, which last year had detailed $138 million in cuts Medicaid faced in the budget that begins July 1 because of a deficit, lowered the estimate after the program's costs came in $21 million under budget for the first half of the current fiscal year.

Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe told lawmakers at the start of this year's session that the lower spending so far this year meant the state could avoid the nursing home cuts, which would have affected as many as 15,000 seniors in the state. The department said it also no longer planned to eliminate Medicaid's adult dental program, an insurance program for low-income workers and community-based services for the elderly.

"No one wanted to cut funding for nursing care so I think this will be very welcome news," DHS Director John Selig said in a statement. "Medicaid staff have worked hard to manage the program tightly and to be as innovative as possible."

The shortfall assumes that lawmakers will approve Beebe's proposal to use $90 million in general revenue and $140 million from the state surplus to shore up Medicaid's budget. DHS said it's still proposing cuts in other areas and rate freezes for some providers to make up the lowered shortfall.

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