Gibbons backs off idea of dropping Medicaid |

Gibbons backs off idea of dropping Medicaid

Nevada Appeal Capitol Bureau

Gov. Jim Gibbons said Wednesday that while he thinks Medicaid spending can’t be sustained, now is not the time to opt out of the program entirely.

Gibbons raised concerns earlier this month when he asked Health and Human Services officials to look into dropping the program to save the state money. The request followed a report from the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation reminding states that Medicaid is a voluntary, not mandatory, program.

He said in a statement issued Wednesday that, after reviewing the analysis of the program, “and thankfully, the apparent demise of the federal health care reform legislation,” he will not be seeking to pull Nevada out of Medicaid.

The Nevada Medicaid budget is about $2.9 billion for this biennium, about $870 million of that state general fund money.

Gibbons said, however, the program must be changed because the state can’t afford the average

10 percent a year growth

in costs.

“Our ever-growing Medicaid burden undercuts our ability to fund other state responsibilities,” including education and public safety, he said.

A key in his decision, he made it clear, is the apparent failure of the health care reform bill. Gibbons said Medicaid provisions in the bill would have added

$613 million to Nevada’s costs over the six-year period between 2014 and 2020 by making nearly 100,000 more residents eligible for the program.

He said if that changes and Congress moves to push the increasing costs of health care reform to the states, he will be forced to revisit the issue.