LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas’ shortfall in its Medicaid program in 2013 will be even higher than officials expected and could hit $400 million, the state’s Department of Human Services (DHS) said Thursday.
Medicaid serves elderly people who need nursing home care as well as poor people of all ages.
DHS spokeswoman Amy Webb said officials now estimate the Medicaid program will face between a $350 million and $400 million shortfall in the budget year that begins July 1, 2013. Officials had originally estimated the program would need at least $250 million in additional money that year.
Webb said officials revised their estimates on the expected deficit over the past few weeks, and said the estimate was changed after budget hearings began in January.
“We knew it was going to be higher, but we were focused on the upcoming year’s budget in the budget hearings and getting ready for those,” Webb said.
Webb said the increase stems from a $60 million shortfall the program had expected for the coming year not materializing and because of a drop in the federal matching rate for the program.
Gov. Mike Beebe’s budget for the coming fiscal year proposes a $114 million increase for Medicaid. Beebe spokesman Matt DeCample said the figure doesn’t change the governor’s proposal for the coming year and said Beebe wants to study the reasons for DHS revising the estimate.
“He’s not fully convinced of that number yet,” he said.
Beebe, a Democrat, had rejected a spending cut proposal from House Republicans that would have paid for $14 million of his proposed Medicaid increase from the state’s surplus and would have set aside another $25 million from the surplus to help with the shortfall in 2013.