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Health and Family Services Cabinet
Cabinet Health Officials Discuss Medicaid Budget Shortfall with Kentuckians

Press Release Date:  Thursday, July 21, 2005  
Contact Information:  Gwenda Bond or Vikki Franklin (502)564-6786  

Cabinet Health Officials Discuss Medicaid Budget Shortfall with Kentuckians,
Medicaid Announces Delay of July 15 Co-Pays
FRANKFORT, Ky. (July 21, 2005) Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) officials accepted suggestions from Kentuckians on addressing the projected $675 million Medicaid shortfall for fiscal year 2006 at public forums in Bowling Green and London last week and at a July 5 meeting of advocates in Frankfort.

In response to feedback received at the forums, Medicaid will delay the prescription drug co-payments for optional eligibility groups ($3 for generic drugs, $10 for preferred brand drugs and $20 for non-preferred brand name drugs) that were set to take effect July 15 while it explores the possibility of placing a cap on the amount an individual can be charged in co-pays over a certain time period.

 “We are facing a true fiscal crisis in the Medicaid program. I commend everyone who came out to discuss possible solutions and offer feedback on the program,” said Mark D. Birdwhistell, CHFS Undersecretary for Health. “There are no easy answers when you’re facing a $675 million shortfall, which is why it is so important that stakeholders work with us to preserve Medicaid for our most vulnerable citizens.” 

Birdwhistell, Medicaid Commissioner Shannon R. Turner and Mental Health and Mental Retardation Services Commissioner Pat Wear II led the forums, which were attended by providers, consumers, advocates and other stakeholders. More than 125 people attended the Bowling Green forum and about 50 people attended the London forum. The Frankfort meeting was attended by more than 125 people, including advocates and legislators.

The shortfall Kentucky Medicaid faces is largely driven by federal changes, such as the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, which requires payments from the state Medicaid program to the federal government, and policy interpretation changes related to fund transfers, among others. The total estimated impact of federal actions on Kentucky Medicaid is more than $375 million. Governor Ernie Fletcher has directed the cabinet to explore all options and do everything possible to preserve Medicaid services for those who need them most.

“Medicaid in its current state is simply unsustainable. These forums provided valuable information for us to consider as we look at what changes must be made to protect our most vulnerable Medicaid members,” Turner said.

Medicaid also announced that due to federal guidelines the co-pay on emergency room visits for non-emergency causes scheduled to take effect Aug. 1 will be $3, rather than the previously announced $6. 

Cabinet officials will continue to share information related to the shortfall with the public, advocates and legislators in the coming weeks and months. For more information on co-pays or to offer suggestions, providers and consumers can contact Michael Cornwall in the Department for Medicaid Services (DMS) at (502)564-4321.



Last Updated 7/21/2005