Alabama’s Medicaid agency says it needs less money

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The head of Alabama’s Medicaid agency says it will need less money in the coming year.

News outlets reported Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar told state lawmakers Wednesday that Medicaid is asking for $715 million for the coming year. That’s $40 million less than the current year.

Azar said it has about $106 million to take into the 2020 budget year, avoiding the need for extra money next year while still meeting the $821 that will be needed.

She says benefits from the federal budget have helped the state, citing drug rebates, Medicare Part B and the tobacco trust fund.

“Things have just been really going well as far as things we have limited control over, plus we’re driving a lot of efficiencies in our program,” Azar said.

“That was some good news from Medicaid today, with some carry-over money they’re going to have,” House General Fund budget chairman Steve Clouse, Ozark-Republican, said. “Less expenditures on pharmacy cost. Enrollment has stabilized, continuing to stabilize and even go down a little bit.”

The federal government pays 70 percent of the cost of Medicaid. The state has to come up with 30 percent share and state lawmakers have used some of the BP oil spill settlement to cover part of the cost previously.

Medicaid covers more than 1 million people in Alabama, mostly children, the elderly and the disabled. The program plays a major role in funding hospitals and the offices of pediatricians.

The legislative session begins March 5.

Republished with permission from the Associated Press.

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