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Notices detailing cuts spark more questions



Published: Sat, July 30, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Medical aid recipients recently received letters to explain changes.

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The state has sent notices to thousands of medical assistance recipients in an attempt to explain the service cuts they'll face next month, but some recipients are more confused than they were before, legal aid agencies say.

Medicaid recipients face limits on outpatient care visits and constraints on certain mental health and rehabilitation hospital services under the new service reductions. They'll also have to make co-payments on prescription drugs.

Part of cutbacks

The Medicaid changes are part of $240 million in cuts in the state-federal program approved by state lawmakers and the governor earlier this month.

Those in the state's general assistance program, which serves low-income adults who don't qualify for Medicaid, also face similar cuts and restrictions.

The Medicaid and general assistance program changes take effect Aug. 29.

The state this week sent notices explaining the cuts to 715,000 Medicaid recipients and 52,000 general assistance recipients, said state Department of Public Welfare spokeswoman Stacey Ward.

Baffled recipients

But the notices have confused some of the recipients, who have called legal aid agencies with questions.

More than 200 people have called the Pennsylvania Health Law Project in two days, said Fran Chervenak, the managing attorney of the agency's Pittsburgh office.

Pennsylvania Legal Services has also received dozens of calls about the medical assistance cuts, said Sam Milkes, its executive director.

Unsure of changes

Most people aren't sure how the changes will affect them, Chervenak said. Others aren't aware that there are certain exemptions from the cuts, although the notices outline the exemptions, she said.

The service reductions don't apply to people under 21, pregnant women or Medicare recipients. The co-payments also don't apply to those under 18, pregnant women or nursing home residents.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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