A Detroit Free Press article reports that the Michigan Medicaid budget for the 2011 fiscal year has finally passed both houses of the Legislature and awaits the Governor's signature. With $650 million of federal stimulus money, the Department of Community Health has avoided a threatened $50 million cut in mental health services and has restored dental, podiatry, and vision care for all Medicaid recipients. A 4% cut in reimbursement to physicians and hospitals has also been avoided.
In usual fashion, the Legislature has ignored the problem of future deficits starting in 2012 when the stimulus funds are no longer available. Next year, there will be a $500 million gap in the budget, but who cares? It's an election year and a large number of legislators will be gone or will have shifted to another house because of term limits. Tax increases for next year have been suggested by Republican Senator Roger Kahn from Saginaw Township, who predicts that the next Legislature will "enact a combination of spending cuts, reforms and tax increases to avoid a deficit."