The Stimulus chickens coming home to roost.
The recession has caused enrollment in the health program for the needy to soar. Medicaid rolls for low-income residents have jumped 7.7 percent from June 2009 to 2010 to more than 1 million people.
Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of dollars in federal stimulus money are about to dry up.
The state has few options. To participate in Medicaid, it must provide services to the aged, blind, disabled and low-income children. And because Georgia accepted stimulus cash from Washington it cannot cut back eligibility on optional programs such as dental coverage and prescription drugs, Medows said.
"We are in a box," Medows told a joint budget panel of state legislators on Thursday.
"I cannot find $506 million to fill that hole through cuts, program reductions, layoffs."
Gov. Sonny Perdue has put forward a proposal which would charge hospitals and health insurance plans a 1.6 percent fee on their total revenues.