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PA's Still-Unbalanced Budget May Reduce Medicaid Spending


HARRISBURG (WSKG) - State lawmakers haven't yet finished the state budget, which was due Friday. They have until midnight next Monday to pass one, otherwise the unbalanced spending plan lawmakers sent to Governor Tom Wolf's desk last week becomes law--with or without his signature. 

Though little is still known about how the final budget will be paid for, the spending plan makes it clear that lawmakers aim to look for some savings in health care.

The single biggest spending reduction in the plan sitting on Wolf's desk is a more than $350 million decrease in money allocated to Medicaid managed care.

That's a nearly 10 percent reduction to the massive fund, which gets cash from both the state and federal government.

Medicaid managed care involves the state contracting with private care providers to serve patients more cheaply. House Republican Leader Dave Reed said savings could largely come from downward revisions of inflated patient numbers.

But he noted, general savings reductions are also on the agenda.

"There's no secret, we want to have a serious discussion with the administration, with the senate, on some changes, perhaps, to our DHS system--particularly the Medicaid program, going forward," he said Friday.

Lawmakers tried to reduce Medicaid-related spending in the just-ended fiscal year as well. They ultimately had to supplement more money to fill that gap--spending nearly $200 million additional dollars.

According to Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, that won't be the case again.

"Now, we've not concluded our revenue side of the equation," he said. "But there's no discussion this year about a need to do a supplemental."