Budget Cuts Might Mean Trouble for Medicaid

By Cierra Putman
NewsWest 9

It could be a prescription for trouble.

Local healthcare providers predict problems with the Medicaid program.

It's all because state agencies are being forced to trim their budgets and even a small Medicaid reduction could have a big impact.

Jesse Burris suffers from a rare syndrome that causes paralysis.

Medicaid got him the extended care he needed to walk again.

"If I didn't have Medicaid, I'd still be paralyzed," Burris said.

But state budget cuts are threatening the program.

There's talk of a one percent cut in the rates paid to Medicaid health care providers.

"It's just going to make a difficult situation worse," David Barnard with Deerings Nursing and Rehabilitation, said. "We already rely on Medicare to offset the barely making ends meet Medicaid program."

At Deerings Nursing & Rehabilitation, 80 percent of patients receive Medicaid.

They stand to lose $20,000 to $30,000 a year if there's a cut.

"There's no place to off set it, you just have to tighten your belt," Barnard said. "It just gets ridiculous after awhile, all the penny-pinching you have to do to overcome a cut like that."

There's concern some medical professionals will drop Medicaid patients all together.

"More and more physicians are getting out of the Medicare service industry for example," Gary Gray of West Texas Orthopedics, said. "And I think the same thing could happen with Medicaid if those cuts go through."

"I think people who are in need to take care of folks who are going to stay in it," Barnard said. "I think it's going to be hard for managers to stay with it."

Something patients, like Burris, are sure to eventually notice.

On top of a possible state cut, both Barnard and Gray say they fear a larger one to Medicare from the federal government.

Congress is set to review slashing Medicare reimbursements by more than 20 percent.