Johnson County officials clarify Medicaid funding

BY KAITLIN DEWULF | MAY 09, 2014 5:00 AM

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Despite concerns, Johnson County is not cutting Medicaid funding.

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors clarified this after questions were directed to supervisors before their meeting on Thursday.

With the recent fiscal 2014 budget amendment, the supervisors are worried the public misunderstood a change in the way Medicaid bills are paid.

Andy Johnson, the executive assistant to the supervisors, said the amendment is part of the budgeting process near the end of each fiscal year.

Part of this amendment was a proposed $5.8 million decrease in mental-health expenses, which had the public concerned. He said there are some unexpected expense and revenue changes, but the public took this as a cut in funding for some programs.

Supervisor Janelle Rettig said she was afraid of this happening — the public is starting to wonder if the supervisors approved cuts to Medicaid funding.

But that’s not the case.

“When the budget was established, it was unclear how the state was going to handle Medicaid billings,” Rettig said.

Previously, hospitals or other health-care providers billed the county, and the state later reimbursed the money. This process was recently changed. Now, the funding goes directly from the state to the providers.

Supervisor Rod Sullivan said the supervisors are no longer the middleman in the funding of Medicare and other bills, and that was reflected in the amended budget.

“If people just look at the budget amendment and see we’re not spending $6 million on mental health, they think we’re cutting funding,” Sullivan said.

He said the supervisors had to move that money in their budget, but the county still pays the same amount.

Sullivan said this is because of a discussion over mental-health redesign by the state, and this is what the state has come up with.

Rettig said Johnson County officials are still taxing and spending the same amount of money on mental-health services that they have been for the past 20 years.

“Not a nickel of services were cut from Johnson County in any way, shape, or form,” she said.

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