Governor Tom Vilsack and republican legislators are close to a deal that would erase the red ink in the state’s Medicaid budget.The only difference is, republicans plan to use money from the state’s “senior living trust,” cuts are similar and his plan includes some tobacco-settlement money also, but there’s more consensus than difference. Vilsack pointed out that more people are applying for the state’s Medicaid help in paying healthcare costs. Vilsack said the state’s Medicaid shortfall is estimated at up to 62-million this year, near 90-million next year. Republicans propose cutting Medicaid reimbursement rates to doctors, hospitals and nursing homes by just over five percent. Vilsack suggests a lower, three percent reduction. Both agree they’ll have to tap into special state accounts to cover the rest of the shortfall.One other resource could be tobacco money, which could be used for healthcare without violating terms of the tobacco settlement. Vilsack says reductions in pay for healthcare providers would still be part of the plan, though the cuts would be less. And the democratic governor concedes G-O-P lawmakers have offered Medicaid budget-cutting plans.Republican leaders suggested a 5-point-three percent cut, he’s touting a three-percent cutback which he thinks will leave the system in better shape. An earlier proposal from the State’s Council on Human Services would have cut Medicaid reimbursement rates to hospitals, nursing homes and doctors by 15 percent. That’s been thrown out, as some on-the-brink nursing homes would be forced out of business by that kind of a cut. House Republican Leader Christopher Rants of Sioux City says the Medicaid deal is part of an overall effort to respond to the deficit in the current year’s state budget, as tax collections are lagging behind expectations.Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows isn’t thrilled with dipping into special state accounts to erase the Medicaid deficit.But Iverson says because of the urgency of the situation, lawmakers will have to do some things they may not necessarily like to do.
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