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State officials warn Medicaid money will run out by month’s end

Alaska’s Medicaid health insurance program will run out of money as soon as the end of March, state officials are warning.

Unless the Alaska Legislature appropriates additional money, the Department of Health and Social Services says it will be unable to pay Alaska’s share of the joint federal-state program. Medicaid payments will be suspended.

“To our providers, it’s very catastrophic,” said Shawnda O’Brien, assistant commissioner of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, by phone on Friday.

Any interruption in Medicaid payments would have major effects on Alaska’s health care system. According to the latest available state figures, 200,000 Alaskans — one in four of the state’s residents — are covered by some form of Medicaid. While the state’s big hospitals have some kind of cash reserves to make up the gap — at least temporarily — the state’s smaller clinics, doctor’s offices and independent nursing homes do not have big reserve accounts.

For the rest of this story, visit the Juneau Empire.

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