Don Rush

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is announcing a series of budget measures that includes canceling pay raises, trimming the state's payroll, and using the state's rainy day fund.

McAuliffe announced the measures Thursday at the Capitol, adding that he'd had to make difficult decisions and there may me more to come.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Officials say Virginia's Medicaid program has begun covering the cost of mosquito repellent to prevent people from being infected by the Zika virus.

The Washington Post reports that the program began covering repellent on Monday.

The state health department says prescriptions are required for people to obtain the payment. One refill is allowed per month.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware officials say Medicaid recipients can now get benefit coverage for over-the-counter mosquito repellents.

Officials say the move is intended to help protect against the Zika virus.

Over-the-counter insect repellents generally are not covered by Medicaid. But the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently allowed states to cover mosquito repellents for Medicaid recipients when prescribed by an authorized health professional.

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Medicaid recipients could receive dental care under a measure that was approved by the Delaware Senate yesterday.

Nearly 117-thousand people would be covered with a price tag of $7.4 million.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that there would be a $10 co-pay for up to $1-thousand per year in dental care.

Another $15-hundred would be allowed for emergency dental care.  

The paper reports that state Senator Colin Bonini (R-Dover South) questioned whether the state could afford the measure given the current revenue projections.

Don Rush

NEW CASTLE, Del. (AP) - Lawmakers who meet this week to begin marking up Gov. Jack Markell's proposed $4 billion budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 have almost $36 million less to work with than they did last month.

The Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council on Monday lowered official revenue projections for the current and upcoming fiscal years by about $18 million each compared to April's estimates.

The changes were largely driven by lower expectations for personal and corporate income taxes.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - A rift between a medical center and a health care company threatens to suspend coverage for thousands of patients.

The Wilmington News Journal  reports that the current contract between Bayhealth Medical Center and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware to reimburse the hospital for its care of the insurer's customers expires May 15.

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For those who have enrolled in Delaware’s Medicaid program since the Affordable Care Act women overwhelm men by a 2 to 1 margin.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that the numbers at a monthly Delaware Health Care Commission meeting found that by the end of January 63 percent of the nearly 10-thousand new enrollees were women.

Nina DeVoe with the Delaware Commission for Women told the paper that this appeared to be the result of the issues that are facing women.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Leaders in the Virginia General Assembly have reached a compromise on a $100 billion state budget proposal that includes no new taxes or fee increases and raises state worker pay by 3 percent.

Republican leaders in both the House and Senate announced Wednesday they have agreed on a two-year state spending plan.

As expected, the budget does not include provisions related to expanding Medicaid. Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, has pushed for expanding the publicly funded health care program for the poor, but Republicans have rejected the idea.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - State Medicaid officials are facing an estimated shortfall of $28.5 million in Gov. Jack Markell's proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year because of higher-than-expected costs.

Officials told lawmakers Wednesday that while Markell's budget proposal includes $40 million in additional Medicaid spending, they now expect they'll need more than $68 million.

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Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe gave a warning to Republican lawmakers that he would veto any legislation he thought would curb abortion rights or expand gun rights in a way he thinks is unsafe.

McAuliffe issued the warning during his State of the Commonwealth address to the legislature last night.

The governor has been an outspoken advocate for abortion rights and signed an executive order last year banning the open carry of guns in some state-owned buildings.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Lawmakers are returning to Richmond to kick off the 2016 legislative session and to hear Gov. Terry McAuliffe's State of the Commonwealth speech.

The Democratic governor is entering his third year in office and will be seeking support from state lawmakers to support his $109 billion proposed budget that includes a billion-dollar increase in education spending, small corporate and individual tax cuts, and a 2 percent raise for state employees.

He delivers his third State of the Commonwealth address Wednesday night.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is proposing a billion dollar increase in education spending, small tax cuts, and a 2 percent raise for state employees.

The Democratic governor is also renewing his long-shot push to convince the GOP-controlled General Assembly to approve an expansion of Medicaid.

McAuliffe unveiled his $109 billion two-year budget proposal Thursday at the Capitol. He says he took a conservative approach to spending that will help improve Virginia's long-term economic outlook.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A new state forecast expects Virginia's Medicaid costs to increase by nearly $1 billion through the next two-year budget.


RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia's legislative watchdog agency says inadequate review systems and delays in processing have left the state vulnerable to providing millions of dollars in Medicaid benefits to people who aren't eligible.

Staff members of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission unveiled the first part of their two-year review of the state's Medicaid program to lawmakers Monday.

The commission says the state isn't checking to determine whether applicants are telling the truth when they report that they have no income.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia health officials are seeking the public's input on how to improve Medicaid coverage for substance abuse disorder treatment services.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is inviting states to apply for waivers that would allow them to enhance or expand services. Virginia officials are soliciting public comment on that waiver request.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - A long-delayed pilot study of Delaware's Medicaid program has identified more than $11 million in possible waste, fraud and abuse.
Officials said in releasing the report Thursday that they are recovering clearly erroneous payments and collecting more information on claims needing further review.

DOVER, Del. (AP) - A statewide business group says Delaware politicians need to take a hard look at cutting state spending.

The Delaware Business Roundtable issued a study Wednesday warning that unless officials take action, annual operating deficits could balloon to more than $600 million, or 11 percent of expenditures, by fiscal 2025.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland is one of more than a dozen states where new Medicaid enrollees under President Barack Obama's health law have surpassed initial projections.

The projected newly eligible enrollment for fiscal year 2015 initially was 164,724.

The initial estimated cost was about $31 million for fiscal year 2017, when states begin paying their share.

Don Rush

BALTIMORE (AP) - A federal inspector general says Maryland improperly billed Medicaid for services in hundreds of thousands of cases involving the developmentally disabled and the state owes the federal government more than $34 million.

Only 23 percent of millennials in Delaware are signing up for the Affordable Care Act.

And that is among the lowest in the nation and 5 percent below the national average.

These are people between the ages of 18 and 34.

Delaware Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf told the Wilmington News Journal that she was hesitant to think that there has not been enough outreach.

Landgraf said that Medicaid enrollment may have contributed to the low signup rate for millennials.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A federal audit says Maryland misallocated $28.4 million in federal money for its flawed health care exchange and is recommending the state pay the money back.

The inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services is releasing the audit Friday.

It says Maryland misallocated costs to federal grants instead of the Medicaid program in 2013 and 2014. The audit says Maryland did not use updated estimated enrollment data when it became available.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed a new state budget that includes a pay increases for state employees, boosts cash benefits for welfare recipients and has more money for the governor to spend on economic development.

The Democratic governor signed the budget Thursday at the Capitol while touting his good working relationship with Republican leaders on the state's spending plan.

McAuliffe did not try and amend the budget that state lawmakers approved last month.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The state of Maryland says 289,131 residents enrolled in health care in the second sign up period.

The state says 122,778 enrolled in private plans. Of those, 87,007 received an advanced premium tax credit. There were 35,771 enrolling in private plans without a subsidy.

There were 166,353 enrolled in Medicaid.

The state says 88 percent of applicants were determined eligible for financial assistance, either through Medicaid or subsidies for private plans. That's up from 80 percent a year ago.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Legislative budget writers are continuing their review of budget requests for one of Delaware's biggest government agencies, the Department of Health and Social Services.

Wednesday's agenda includes a discussion of the Medicaid and medical assistance programs, which account for more than half of the entire department's budget.

One concern for lawmakers is how to cut down on fraud and waste in the Medicaid program, which costs state taxpayers about $700 million a year.

Signups for Maryland's Health connection are down by 10.4 percent so far.

That's despite efforts to increase the enrollment numbers, including a larger call center staff and a streamlined website.

February 15th was the enrollment deadline.

And, only 264,245 people have signed up.

That's compared to 295,077 during last year's longer open enrollment period.

But, the numbers are not final yet.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Lawmakers are returning to Richmond to kick off their 2015 session and to hear Gov. Terry McAuliffe's State of the Commonwealth speech.

Entering his second term in office, Democrat McAuliffe will be seeking to make his mark on a General Assembly that's now firmly in control of Republicans following the surprise resignation of a Democratic senator last summer. He delivers his second Commonwealth address Wednesday night.

Don Rush

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Gov. Terry McAuliffe wants to more than double the pot of money he can spend trying to lure companies to Virginia, ease school districts' teacher retirement burdens, and give raises to rookie deputy sheriffs.

The governor unveiled these and other proposed changes to the state's biennial budget Wednesday at a Capitol briefing to state lawmakers.

Delawareans who earn from the $16-thousand to $47-thousand a year will lose health coverage through the state’s Community Healthcare Access Program beginning on February 1st.

The program is run by the state and offers discounted medical services for those not eligible for Delaware’s Medicaid program.

$478-thousand from the tobacco settlement had been earmarked for the program.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The trade group representing Virginia hospitals is reporting it spent more than $400,000 on lobbying expenses while it was a leading advocate for expanding Medicaid.

The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association filed its annual lobbying disclosure form with the state earlier this month. The form covered spending from May 2013 to April 2014.

The $400,000 the association reported spending is a large increase from the year before, when it reported spending only $93,000.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Senate Finance Committee has advanced a new state budget without Medicaid expansion - a major step toward ending a months long stalemate.

But a floor vote on the budget plan was delayed Thursday night as Republican senators privately debated a proposal by Sen. Dick Black to ensure that Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe cannot expand Medicaid without legislative approval.