Dr. Fred Cerise, secretary of the Department of Health said today the federal budget released earlier this week by the Bush Administration may result in further reductions in federal funds to Louisiana.

Cerise said he is concerned about the impact of the phasing down of existing provider fees, which are important to the funding of Medicaid in Louisiana.

“At this time, we do not fully know the details or the magnitude of all of the proposals,” Cerise added. “Therefore, our staff and our Medicaid consultants are currently conducting an in-depth analysis of the budget. We will be fully prepared for any changes in federal funding that will have an impact to our priorities.”

He also said the national experts on the Governor’s Health Care Reform Panel always have cautioned state policymakers not to expect additional federal funds for health care, and to be prepared for some funding reductions.

Cerise said the health department held a conference call yesterday with officials with the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and learned that the President’s budget includes reductions to intergovernmental transfer programs (which have been phased out in Louisiana) and spend-down regulations, areas that should not have much of an impact in Louisiana.

“There is some good news. Several key areas in which we are concentrating that will require federal approval were not cut in the Bush proposal,” he added. “This includes our plan to request approval to use Medicaid funds to help low-wage earners purchase their health care premiums, funding to create more community health clinics and the continuation of funding for children’s health insurance.”