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State Officials Work With Advocates On Budget Cuts
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 1, 2005

FRANKFORT, KENTUCKY--State officials in Kentucky seem have found two novel ways to head-off protests, demonstrations, and bad publicity that their counterparts in Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee have faced regarding budget cuts.

First, they've decided to listen to advocates.

Second, they've decided to take a closer look at ways to avoid wholesale cuts in their programs.

Last week, according to the Courier-Journal, top Medicaid officials met with advocates met and agreed to changes in Kentucky Children's Health Insurance Program which serves about 49,000 poor children.

Earlier in August, state officials met with mental health advocates to work out problems in a new pharmacy system that was rejecting some psychiatric patients' prescriptions.

"I truly am encouraged," said mental health advocate Sheila Schuster, who was involved in the talks. "If they can do it without hurting people, that's good public policy."

Mark D. Birdwhistell, state undersecretary for health, said Medicaid officials would continue to work with health care advocates as they change the $4.7 billion program, unlike Kentucky's neighbors.

"A lot of them have taken a meat-ax sort of approach," Birdwhistell said. "We'd rather fine-tune it."

"State, advocates team up on Medicaid changes" (Courier-Journal)

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