Wednesday Governor Inslee released his state budget proposal, which includes more funding for mental health services but unfortunately also includes a cut of $42 million over the two year period for services to Medicaid enrollees at hospital-based clinics. Many of these clinics are the main or only source of specialty services for Medicaid and Medicare enrollees in their community. In some communities these hospital clinics are also a main source of primary care for Medicaid patients.
WSHA opposes the cuts as they significantly undermine hospitals’ efforts to provide access to care for vulnerable members of their community. Hospital-based clinics typically serve high proportions of Medicaid patients and often provide costly-to-provide, specialized services that are otherwise unavailable in the community. Many private offices have either terminated their Medicaid contracts or severely limit the number of Medicaid patients they see, but hospital-based clinics typically do not do this. Since Medicaid payment is already significantly less than the actual cost of providing care, these cuts to hospital clinics threaten their ability to continue access for these services. If access to these services is compromised, costs to the state may increase if patients instead use more costly emergency departments.
WSHA will be asking hospitals to engage in an active campaign to make sure the legislature fully funds these clinics. We will need your help to inform your government affairs and leadership on the implications of this cut. More information regarding this cut and other provisions in the Governor’s proposed budget will be available later today in an Inside Olympia article. (Andrew Busz, firstname.lastname@example.org).