Recession leaving Medicaid short

Largely because of the recession, Nevada Medicaid will be $37 million in the red by the end of 2010.

Charles Duarte, administrator of the Division of Health Care Financing and Policy, told the Legislative Interim Finance Committee Thursday that the Children's Health Assistance Program is already 4 percent over budget.

"That equates to $37 million in General Fund money over the biennium," he said.

Nevada Check-Up, the program that provides health insurance to the children of Nevada's working poor, is in better shape because the number of families who've lost their jobs has increased, qualifying their children for Medicaid coverage instead.

Nevada's General Fund share of the Medicaid budget is more than $200 million this biennium.

Duarte told lawmakers the demand for services has been escalating because the economy is making so many more people eligible.

Toward the end of the 2009 Legislature, lawmakers had to pump more than $23 million in additional state funding into the program.

In other action, IFC:

• Approved the decision by Nevada's Board of Regents to raise student classroom fees by an average of 5 percent to make up for part of the budget cuts imposed on the university system in the 2009 Legislature. The system overall suffered a reduction of more than 14 percent in state support.

The increase, spread over all of the system's campuses, is expected to generate $7.15 million in revenue to provide student classes and services.

At Western Nevada College, the increases are projected to bring in $101,428. At UNR, they will raise just over $2 million.

• Authorized the Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs to accept $555,750 in federal highway funds to pay for construction of new permanent transportation exhibits at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City.

• Accepted $441,255 in federal grants to strengthen anti-drug programs in the state.

• Authorized Secretary of State Ross Miller to spend $1.97 million to begin the process of creating a business portal that will combine, centralize and simplify the process of licensing and registering a new business in the state of Nevada.

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