States rush to settle Medicaid bills

USA Today, March 22, 2011
State governments are rushing to pay billions of dollars of medical bills before special federal assistance for Medicaid expires July 1. The hurry-up-and-pay effort will put an extra $1 billion or more into the pockets of financially struggling states ? and increase the federal deficit by a similar amount. "States are paying bills as fast as they can," says Debra Miller, healthcare expert at the Council of State Governments. "It's kind of the opposite of what states traditionally do." To beat deadlines for reduced federal aid, states are writing checks swiftly, paying off backlogs of bills and asking hospitals and doctors to send in bills as fast as they can. The federal stimulus law and a later extension provided states an extra $80 billion in 2009 and 2010 for Medicaid. This was done by reducing the states' share of the program from a national average of 40% to 28%.

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