A human services panel charged with deciding how to cut state spending has chosen one of the three options before it. The panel recommends that reimbursement rates for doctors and nursing homes that care for Medicaid patients be cut 13 percent. Chris Hanson runs Western Home Communities in Cedar Falls and says if they take on more risk and go broke, they can’t help anyone, and he says the state should cover the cost of caring for people who are “wards of the state.” Hanson says cutting what’s paid for care of Medicaid clients will put more burden on someone, somewhere.He says they’re providing care to some 40 residents, and the proposed payment cuts would add up to 190-thousand dollars a year he’ll have to charge to privately-insured patients or someone else. The human services council still hopes lawmakers in the upcoming session will find some money to prevent the cuts from being made. Jessie Rasmussen is director of the Department of Human Services. She says she remains optimistic that the right decisions will be made for the use of the tax dollars.Rasmussen supports the governor’s proposal to move money from other agencies to cover the gap in the human services budget. But House Speaker Brent Siegrist, a republican from Council Bluffs, says that would only be a short-term solution because Medicaid will have shortfalls for the next two years.He says you don’t put a band-aid on something that requires a tourniquet. Speaker Siegrist says no matter how funds are shuffled, someone will come up short. Other choices would have been cutting some services like chiropractic or dental, or cutting off state help entirely for people whose catastrophic bills and borderline income put them in the “medically needy” category.
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