Medicaid Requesting $425 Million For Fiscal '04

Medicaid Executive Director Rica Lewis Payton says her agency will request $425 million dollars for the budget year that starts next July 1st. That's $75 million more than the program was given for the current budget year.

State agencies will make their fiscal 2004 spending requests during budget hearings in September. Medicaid has struggled with budget shortfalls in recent months.

Payton has been working with lawmakers, Governor Ronnie Musgrove and others to cut spending in recent months as the insurance program for the needy, aged and disabled has faced growing enrollment and a shrinking state budget. Early estimates showed Medicaid was facing a $120 million shortfall this year.

Payton said Monday that because prescription spending and other costs have been reduced, the shortfall is now estimated at $75 million.