Last week, Murray Calloway County Hospital announced the elimination of 28 jobs. MCCH CEO Jerry Penner says the cuts are results of a turbulent healthcare environment including low patient volume and declining Medicaid reimbursements. Shelly Baskin speaks with Penner about the details surrounding the cuts, and the financial trouble related to Managed Care Organizations and the Affordable Care Act.

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On a day when the Republican-led state of New Jersey moved to expand it’s Medicaid program, hospitals and Democrats see an opening in Tennessee. The Tennessee Hospital Association released a poll showing a majority of residents want expansion.

Nearly 60 percent of respondents to the hospital association’s poll said the state should accept federal dollars to expand it’s health insurance program for the poor as envisioned in the Affordable Care Act.

THA president Craig Becker says he’s also seen a softening among state lawmakers.

“We started with many of our legislators back in the summertime with basically a ‘hell no.’ Now we’ve moved ourselves much closer I think where they’re willing to be open to hear what we have to say,” he said.


The state’s hospitals are playing out the “what if’s” as lawmakers consider whether to expand Medicaid as part of the federal health care overhaul. Their study says 90,000 Tennessee jobs could be lost if the expansion does not occur.

Two separate measures for expanding the state’s Medicaid program and allowing illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses are ready for an Illinois House vote. The Human Services Appropriations Committee voted 9 to 5 Monday to make up to 600,00 uninsured residents eligible for Medicaid. The measure is necessary to implement the national health care law next year. The federal government would pay all costs of the new Medicaid recipients for three years starting in 2014. The Medicaid expansion would also need Senate approval.

Illinois officials are launching an effort to ensure the only people that receive Medicaid are those eligible. The eligibility checks include an annual verification of income levels and residency of the state’s 2.7 million Medicaid clients. Virginia-based Maximus Incorporated began the work Wednesday that aims to improve the system, eliminate a backlog and make recommendations to state caseworkers.

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The departure of one of three statewide Medicaid operators next year is once again raising concerns about adequate medical coverage in parts of the state. Earlier this year, coverage was one of the issues brought up between Coventry Cares, another operator, and hospital chain Appalachian Regional Healthcare in a lawsuit over contract issues. At the time, state officials pointed to the other two operators as proof of coverage. But now one of those operators, Kentucky Spirit, is leaving next July.

As the fallout continues from the announced departure of statewide Medicaid operator Kentucky Spirit, many other Medicaid operators are already looking to take their place.

Kentucky Spirit announced last week they would break their contract with the state early. State officials say they won’t re-open those statewide contracts to replace Kentucky Spirit until the current contracts expire.

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The CEO of a major Medicaid managed care company (MCO) is criticizing Kentucky for the way the state deals with businesses like his.

Michael Neidorff is the CEO of Centene, which operates Kentucky Spirit, one of three statewide MCO's that has managed Medicaid patients for the state since last year.

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KentuckyOne Health says it is terminating contracts at all its facilities with Medicaid provider Coventry Cares. KentuckyOne Health says the terminations will be effective November 1st at former Jewish Hospital & St. Mary's Healthcare facilities and on December 1st at former Saint Joseph Health System facilities. Today’s announcement comes after Coventry gave notice that it would not participate at two hospitals owned by the health system — Our Lady of Peace in Louisville and Taylor Regional Hospital in Campbellsville.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is not joining other Kentucky  officials in calling for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.