Budget cuts force Health Department to slash millions from Medicaid
The Wyoming Department of Health plans to cut millions of dollars of funding for Medicaid and for mental health and substance abuse services. That’s to meet a budget reduction required by the state Legislature. Lawmakers directed the Health Department to reduce spending by 4 percent for fiscal year 2014 and to prepare for additional 8 percent cuts in the following two years. Health Department Director Tom Forslund says the cuts will be painful. “The Department of Health provides critical services and funds critical services, and so we can’t cut our budget without impacting those services,” Forslund said. He says the cuts will mean healthcare providers won’t be reimbursed as much for treating Medicaid patients, which make it harder for low-income people to get medical care. “There will be some healthcare providers who elect not to serve as many Medicaid patients,” he said. “And that’s what’s happened to a lot of states around the country – that the more they cut payments to healthcare providers, the less healthcare providers are willing to see Medicaid patients.” Forslund says for every dollar that the state cuts in Medicaid funding, Wyoming loses a dollar of federal funding as well.