State’s Medicaid Program in Race Against the Clock

AUGUSTA — The state’s Medicaid program will run out of money by May 8 unless federal stimulus funding arrives in time to remedy a problem that’s been growing for months.

Brenda Harvey, commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, told legislators last month that overspending in several Medicaid accounts had tallied $65 million more than was budgeted for the current fiscal year. With federal matching funds added in, the situation would have resulted in cuts of more than $200 million worth of services in a span of a few months.

On Friday, Harvey and state finance chief Ryan Low told the Appropriations Committee that they’re hopeful that economic stimulus funds from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will arrive in time to avert any disruption in the state’s Medicaid program.

Governor John Baldacci has proposed using $65 million of Maine’s stimulus funds to fix the current problem and another $40 million in each of the next two years to address future needs. Maine is set to receive more than $334 million in enhanced Medicaid funding, according to the Web site

The congressional stimulus bill requires that each state meet “maintenance of effort” requirements in Medicaid and other areas, meaning states are prohibited from receiving stimulus funding if various programs haven’t been maintained at certain levels. Maine complies with those requirements, said Low, and is in the process of being approved for the Medicaid funding.

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Nicole Ouellette

Nicole Ouellette

When Nicole isn't giving advice she's completely unqualified to give, she runs an Internet marketing company in Bar Harbor, where she lives with her husband Derrick and their short dog Gidget. She loves young adult novels, cooking and talking French to anyone who'll talk back. [email protected]