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Medicaid director says rate cuts wouldn’t impact behavioral health overhaul

Medicaid director says rate cuts wouldn’t impact behavioral health overhaul

Acting Medicaid Director Teresa Hursey is confident providers could sustain a rate cut proposed by Gov. Bruce Rauner and still be able to build out community behavioral health services outlined under a recently approved 1115 Medicaid waiver.

But Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, said that’s not what she’s hearing from providers.

“I know for a five-year period it’s budget neutral, but my understanding is that up front it takes some building out of that in order to bring down the back-end cost,” Steans said at a recent appropriations committee hearing.

Rauner, as part of his fiscal year 2019 budget, is proposing a 4 percent rate reduction across most providers, which would garner $150 million in savings.

Hursey said that through the waiver, the state will be able to pull down additional federal dollars for substance use disorder treatments provided in certain residential and inpatient settings.

She said the state will reinvest the savings in other parts of the program.

Hursey also said that the five-year waiver, which includes 10 demonstration pilots, is one part of the initiative. The state also received approval for state plan amendments to add, among other things, mobile crisis response and crisis stabilization services. In addition, community-based providers would receive extra funding to coordinate the care of high-need Medicaid beneficiaries through integrated health homes under another state plan amendment that is still pending.

“I think it’s a combination of everything that is going to help build out those services,” she said.

The Illinois Health and Hospital Association, at the same hearing, urged legislators not to cut Medicaid rates and to develop a comprehensive budget.

“Cutting the Medicaid program makes no sense from a public health perspective, especially as the state embarks on a new important initiative to address major behavioral health issues and substance use disorders through a 1115 Medicaid waiver,” said David Gross, senior vice president of government relations for IHA.

Illinois Health News is a nonpartisan, independent news service covering the Illinois healthcare beat. Sign up for a free trial to the newsletter here.

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