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Carolinas must reverse cutbacks to get Medicaid stimulus

Cash-strapped states can start getting an infusion of money for their Medicaid services today. But North and South Carolina may not be eligible for the first round. In order to get the first wave of stimulus money for Medicaid, states need to be offering services at a certain level. The federal government has flagged both North and South Carolina as potentially unqualified for the money because of budget cuts made during the last year. South Carolina Medicaid spokesman Jeff Stensland says it will take until April for the state to reverse those cuts. Meantime, officials have submitted a letter promising to do so and Stensland says they hope that will prevent a delay that could mean thousands of South Carolinians will lose their coverage."That, we think, will allow us to restore a lot of the services and some of the eligibility criteria that we changed as a result of the state budget cuts that have been occurring since the summer," says Stensland.Stensland estimates South Carolina could get about $860 million in Medicaid stimulus money over the next two years. North Carolina's share will be more than $2 billion, but the state's eligibility is unclear. Governor Bev Perdue says it's just a misunderstanding in the way the state's program is worded, "and I'm bound and determined North Carolina gets a piece of that first round of Medicaid."