State Officials In Greenville To Discuss Medicaid Concerns

Sweeping Medicaid reforms in our state will change the way people qualify for benefits and doctors are wondering how they will provide the necessary services to half a million patients who could lose Medicaid coverage.

Dr. Aldona Wos, Secretary of the NC Department of Health and Human Services, made a stop in Greenville Thursday to talk to health care professionals about changes to Medicaid.

Dr. Wos says the new plan is called the Partnership for a Healthy North Carolina.

Right now, the state legislature voted not to use federal funding for the next three years. Now the state is looking at a quarter of a billion dollar shortfall in order to pay for Medicaid, more than twice what was first announced by the governor.

Dr. Wos says, "We are actually in process of figuring out why our forecasting models have not worked. Last budget year there almost $450 million dollars or close to it that was over budget and the year before and the year before there were, so we're having less of an issue since January in that money, but we still are so we're addressing that in the department right now."

Tim Stamatis is a Medicaid patient and says the system is broken. He says hip replacement surgery cost $50,000 and there was no way he could have paid it.

Stamatis has Medicare, but Medicaid takes care of the rest of his expenses. He says the way Medicaid is now, he'll lose his benefits if he make $11.00 more a year.

Dr. Wos' visit came on the same day the House voted overwhelmingly to permit budget director Art Pope to use unspent funds, cost savings and surplus tax collections to cover a projected $283 million shortfall in Medicaid spending this fiscal year. The bill now goes to the Senate.

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