Panel votes on plan to pay Medicaid doctors
Nevada lawmakers charged with reviewing the state’s Health and Human Services Department budget voted Wednesday for an $8 million cost-saving program, but didn’t go with a full physician rate increase for Medicaid initially proposed by the governor.
Under the plan approved, the state would spend $17.2 million to pay doctors who serve Medicaid patients 90 percent of the 2007 federal Medicare rate, with 100 percent reimbursement for some specialties. Currently, doctors are being paid at 85 percent of 2002 rates for Medicare.
That move saves $10 million over an initial budget plan, which recommended a higher increase. More money will be saved by delaying the rate change until fiscal year 2009.
Lawmakers had concerns that even with a rate increase, it would be hard for Medicaid to retain doctors who are tired of the paperwork and delays in payment.
Lawmakers also approved an $8 million cost-saving package that was built into Gov. Jim Gibbons budget, despite doubts that the savings would pan out.
The savings would come from better health care management for some children, elderly and disabled people. Also, a program to provide dental care to pregnant women is expected to save money by reducing premature births.
$120,724 SO FAR
Lobbyists’ spending behind 2005’s pace
Three-quarters of the way through the 2007 session of the Nevada Legislature, lobbyists have spent $120,724 on food and drinks at dinners, receptions and other events held to promote their clients’ interests.
The spending shows the lobbyists are behind the pace of the 2005 session. Two years ago, spending at the same point in that session was $139,096.
The February-April spending this year included $115,429 on group events, and another $5,295 on individual legislators, according to the report compiled by the Legislative Counsel Bureau.
The $5,295 for individual legislators is low compared with the group event spending, but that’s because there’s no lawmaker-by-lawmaker spending breakdown for big events to which all Assembly members and senators, as well as many non-legislators, were invited.
Lobbyists reported no individual spending on 16 of the 63 lawmakers; and less than $30 on six others.
More DNA needs to be collected, panel says
A key Senate panel agreed Wednesday that Nevada should collect DNA from more convicted felons, after members clashed over just how much felon DNA the state should collect in the name of public safety.
Senate Judiciary Republicans who wanted more, not less, DNA collected overturned one lawmaker’s attempt to keep some minor offenders’ genetic material out of state hands in what he called "the age of Big Brother."
After that clash, the committee voted 5-1 to support Assembly Bill 92, which would mandate the collection of DNA samples from all Nevada felony convicts.
Under current state law, only those convicted of serious or violent felonies give DNA samples.
Sen. Terry Care, D-Las Vegas, said he was willing to support an expanded database only if the bill was amended to exempt Category E felonies. That category includes the lowest-level felonies, such as writing bad checks and certain graffiti offenses. The wide scope of creating an all-felon database is an ominous sign, he said.2007 Nevada Legislature