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Arkansas Facing Crisis In Mediciad Program

October 27, 1992

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ While Bill Clinton wraps up his presidential campaign this week, Arkansas’ lieutenant governor will meet privately with legislators to plan deep post- election cuts in the state’s Medicaid program.

State Republicans are accusing Clinton of disguising the problem until after the election. But Clinton’s administration has warned for weeks that reductions were coming.

The magnitude of the cuts may surprise some, though. And a 1993 tax increase to bolster the program is not out of the question.

In the last four weeks, the $878 million Medicaid program spent $15 million more than was budgeted. If the trend were allowed to continue, there would be a $120 million deficit at the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 1993.

There are only about $130 million worth of optional services that can be cut from the program. The rest of the programs are required by the federal government.

Lt. Gov. Jim Guy Tucker said the shortfall is ″significantly less″ than $120 million, although he refused to say how much he thought needed to be cut from the Medicaid program.

The Arkansas Constitution makes Tucker governor while Clinton is out of state. Tucker has monitored the Medicaid budget all year, although Clinton has kept tabs on the problem.

The general state budgets appears to be in good shape, with tax collections up about 6 percent over last year. Troubles in the Medicaid program are linked to the expansion of services that cannot be curtailed by states - nursing homes, foster care and services to children.

Arkansas’ Medicaid program has doubled in the last five years.

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