Friday, June 01, 2001

Medical projects put on hold

Gov. Patton cites crisis in Medicaid

By Charles Wolfe
The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — Gov. Paul Patton put a moratorium on an array of health-care projects and services Thursday, citing a budget crisis in the Medicaid program.

        Mr. Patton said he wanted to control spending and buy time to draw up Medicaid recommendations for next year's General Assembly.

        At the same time, administration officials told legislators the Medicaid budget is expected to be in balance when the fiscal year ends June 30. They said the program would be $280 million in the red for fiscal 2002 at current rates of spending.

        Most health-care projects require state approval in the form of a “certificate of need.”

        Under Mr. Patton's moratorium, most proposals for new projects or services would not be certified, even if they were to be paid for privately instead of being covered by Medicaid, the state-federal insurance program for the poor and disabled.

        Marcia Morgan, Mr. Patton's interim secretary for health services, said the certificate of need process is to “root out redundancies,” not just to target Medicaid costs.

        The moratorium would last through April 15. It would apply to applications for such things as open-heart surgery programs, adult day care, many kinds of nursing home and hospital beds and purchases of magnetic-resonance imaging scanners.

        The moratorium does not apply to hospital acute-care beds, neonatal units, organ transplant programs or cardiac catheterization services, among others.

        Projects still in the certification process are exempted if they already have received a public hearing.

        The number of applications frozen by the moratorium was not available. But Ms. Morgan said her agency last year issued certificates for 36 adult day-care centers, 12 home-health agencies, four MRI scanners, three ambulatory surgery centers, one open-heart program and one physical rehabilitation center.


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