JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska is expected to begin running out of money to pay doctors, hospitals and clinics who treat Medicaid patients.
The effects of the shortfall on health care expected to begin Monday would vary from place to place and could not be precisely determined, The Anchorage Daily News reported Sunday.
The shortfall is a consequence of last year’s budget cuts and the failure of the Alaska Legislature this year to approve a $360 million supplemental budget.
Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy and the Alaska Legislature cut nearly $170 million from the Medicaid budget last year with plans to save that amount through a series of program changes.
The changes either failed to save sufficient money or could not be implemented as intended. The governor proposed to reverse most of the cuts in the supplemental budget, but in the meantime the state’s Medicaid accounts have been depleted.
State House Republicans blocked funding for the supplemental budget because they disagreed with a provision reducing their negotiating power on other legislation.
Under Medicaid, health care providers bill the state for the cost of treatment provided to eligible Americans. Most of the program’s cost is paid by the federal government, with states providing smaller shares.
The Alaska House could provide partial funding if lawmakers send the supplemental budget to the governor in its current form, or they could vote again on the entire funding proposal.
An adjournment until Monday made action impossible before a deadline determined by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.
The federal government can still cover its share of treatment, said Sana Efird, the administrative service director in charge of the budget for the department.
“We need a supplemental, and we need it soon, but yes, we have the ability to make the federal portion of payments,” Efird said.