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Name-brand aspirin among cuts by Ky. Medicaid

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Medicaid in Kentucky will no longer pay
for name-band aspirin and other over-the-counter medications when
generic options are available.
The Kentucky Department for Medicaid Services is implementing
that and other changes intended to save some $87 million while
having only minimal affects on recipients, doctors and other
medical care providers.
Medicaid Commissioner Elizabeth Johnson said Friday the move is
intended to curb waste, fraud and abuse in the program that
provides medical care to the poor and disabled.
Another key change Johnson announced will allow the Medicaid
program to reimburse only approved physicians for prescriptions, a
move intended to ensure the state isn't paying for drugs for
unscrupulous recipients who may be abusing or selling them on the
streets.
"These commonsense changes serve to enhance the integrity of
the program, support quality practice by participating providers
and continue to provide appropriate and quality care for
recipients," Johnson said in a statement.
Recipients also will be required to use 90 percent of their
medication before getting refills. Previously, they could get
refills after taking 80 percent of their medication. Johnson said
that move will discourage stockpiling medications and reduce the
likelihood of illegal resale of the pills.
Some 800,000 Kentuckians are enrolled in the Medicaid program at
a cost of about $6 billion a year.
Johnson said the current budget requires Medicaid to reduce its
spending by more than $500 million. The changes announced Friday,
she said, are a first step toward meeting that mandate.
Even deeper cuts, Johnson said, will be necessary without
federal financial help.
Kentucky lawmakers passed a budget earlier this year that
included $238 million that they expected Congress to appropriate
for Medicaid and jobless benefits. Those funds were blocked in June
by a Republican filibuster in the Senate, and Gov. Steve Beshear
has asked department heads to begin looking for ways to cut the
budget.
Beshear has been lobbying Kentucky's federal delegation to push
for the money. He said Congress needs to understand the "critical
need" that Kentucky and other cash-strapped states have for the
federal help.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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