Politics & Government

State official: Medicaid on track to save $86.5 million

FRANKFORT — The state's health program for the poor and disabled is on track to save $86.5 million this fiscal year, Kentucky's top health official said.

"It's going to happen," Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Janie Miller told a House budget subcommittee Wednesday.

Still, she couldn't tell lawmakers how much of the projected savings has been achieved.

How much the state has saved is a key sticking point in a budget amendment bill pending before the General Assembly.

House Bill 305 has been approved by the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee, but the full House hasn't voted. To balance the state's ballooning Medicaid budget, Gov. Steve Beshear is asking that $166 million from the next fiscal year be moved to the current fiscal year.

The administration has said it can generate savings in the next fiscal year to cover the $166 million.

Sen. Bob Leeper, chairman of the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee, said Wednesday that before the Senate agrees to move the $166 million, the administration needs to show that the $6 billion health care program has generated previously promised savings.

"We would like to see something more than just 'trust me,'" Leeper said.

At the legislative meeting, Miller gave examples of cost-cutting measures that have been implemented. For example, a new initiative to partner with the Department of Revenue to recoup money owed to Medicaid has generated $3.8 million; it was budgeted to recoup $1 million.

Audits that determine whether pharmacies dispensed medications for which they billed Medicaid have generated nearly $200,000 and the program is expected to meet its target of $600,000, Miller said.

She said it's sometimes difficult to project how much a cost-saving measure is going to generate during the year because there are so many variables. For example, the state has engaged a new contractor to root out over-payments and fraud. It's too soon to say how much savings that contract will generate, Miller said.