Health commissioner says reimbursement costs to community health centers to be reduced

TRENTON – Acting Health and Senior Services Commissioner Mary O’Dowd said Thursday the state plans to reduce reimbursement costs to community health centers and nursing homes, but will increase funding for hospitals and other programs.

In her opening remarks before the Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee Thursday morning, O’Dowd said the proposed $1.3 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2012 is $9.1 million lower than the prior year. However, due to cuts in federal funding and expansion of services, some changes were proposed.

They include:

*A $9.65 rate reduction for each uninsured patient treated at community health centers, which are formally known as Federally Qualified Health Centers. While the state has increased its budget for FQHCS by $1.8 million to $41.8 million, the program has expanded greatly over the years, causing the department to propose the cost reduction.

*$25 million in reductions to payments for nursing homes for treating Medicaid patients. Much of this proposal stemmed from the $1.4 billion loss in federal funds that supported the Medicaid program, according to O’Dowd. Nearly half the state’s funding of nursing homes comes through Medicaid.

Despite those cuts, other areas of the health department’s budget were either funded at the same levels as last fiscal year, or saw their appropriations increase. They include:

*$40 million hike for hospital programs. Included in that amount is a $10 million hike for Charity Care, which provides hospital services for the uninsured, and $30 million more for the Graduate Medical Education program. The total amount of funding for Charity Care will be $675 million and $90 million for the GME program.

*A $17.6 million increase for the Early Intervention Services, which provides care for children between the ages of birth and age 3.

The total for EIS is $100 million.

  Health commissioner says reimbursement costs to community health centers to be reduced