Education, environment, corrections and transportation -- but for the most part not Medicaid -- took hits in states' fiscal 2004 budgets, according to a study of 10 states by the Rockefeller Institute of Government at the State University of New York. Because of political pressure on legislators, Medicaid programs should continue to avoid major cuts in the near-term, although programs remain vulnerable, according to researchers at the institute. The researchers said Medicaid spending is hard to cut because not only are beneficiaries affected but also the political constituencies of hospitals, where Medicaid represents 15% of revenue, and nursing homes, which depend on Medicaid to pay nearly half of their bills. In addition, legal loopholes have helped states increase federal matching funds without spending more of their own money, but cutting state spending would reduce federal support. The study looked at Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Read the report. -- by Tony Fong
Politics keeping Medicaid safe from cuts: study
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