CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State lawmakers were told Wednesday there will be cash flow problems with Medicaid unless they allocate more money to the health care program by March 2014.
State Revenue Secretary Bob Kiss and members of his department explained the state’s budget situation with an interim legislative committee meeting at the state capitol.
State Budget Director Mike McKown said Medicaid’s cash flow is doing well now but won’t be in a few months because the program is about $109 million short of where the Tomblin administration and lawmakers planned for it to be. He said any extra money in the new budget year would probably have to be allocated to make up the gap.
The shortage is the result three unplanned moves.
McKown said state lawmakers passed a bill at the end of the regular session that would have transferred $67 million in excess lottery funds to Medicaid but the transfer was not allowed by the state Auditor because of a technical flaw. Medicaid was also supposed to get up to $50 million in what was left in excess lottery funds at the end of the fiscal year, but only $29 million came in. The state Budget Office also cut Medicaid by $17 million at the end of the fiscal year and shifted the money to make sure the state had its required balanced budget. McKown said those three moves equal the $109 million shortage.
“Medicaid’s cash flow is pretty good right now but by the middle of March (2014) if we don’t appropriate some money to Medicaid there’s going to be some cash flow problems,” McKown predicted.
Delegate Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan, questioned McKown and Revenue Secretary Bob Kiss for cutting Medicaid by $17 million to make the state budget balance. Kiss said state law allows the governor to do what’s necessary to make the budget balance.
McKown said those overseeing the state budget had to make a decision because there weren’t enough tax revenues coming in the last week of June.
“On the last day of the fiscal year we really didn’t have many options. If we would not have cut them the last day nothing would have gotten re-appropriated,” according to McKown.
Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that pays for health care for the poor and elderly. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin decided to expand Medicaid earlier this year. It’s anticipated an additional 91,000 state residents will receive coverage.