Rhode Island caps Medicaid spending for five years

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Rhode Island is experimenting with Medicaid spending caps, a controversial move that has grabbed the national spotlight.

Under an agreement between Gov. Donald Carcieri (R-RI) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Rhode Island will cap Medicaid spending at $12 billion over the next five years. In exchange, the Bush administration agreed to allow Rhode Island to loosen up on some of its more tightly controlled programs. That could mean expanding the use of Medicaid dollars to home- and community-based care. While the state currently spends $1.7 billion on Medicaid services, critics of the proposal say capping spending is foolish under the current economic conditions.

Critics fear the cap will limit the number of seniors eligible for Medicaid funded nursing home care. State officials, however, have said the cap will not affect current nursing home residents, and that expanded home health programs should allow other seniors to receive care at home, according to the New York Times.