South Carolina's Medicaid programs would stop paying doctors on March 4 unless plans are approved to cover a $228 million deficit, according to plans released Tuesday by agency officials.
"Providers will be encouraged to continue seeing Medicaid patients in hopes that they will eventually be paid," the state Department of Health and Human Services says in a plan it submitted to the State Budget Office.
A key Senate critic said the agency was presenting it's worst-case scenario.
On Dec. 14, the state's financial oversight board, chaired by Gov. Mark Sanford, will decide how to deal with a Medicaid deficit in the current-fiscal-year $1.1 billion budget that has wide implications for the state's elderly, disabled and poor. South Carolina's $5 billion general fund budget has gone through several rounds of cuts, shrinking from nearly $7 billion three years ago.
Lawmakers have taken more than $550 million from the agency's budget in the past several years, transferring it to other departments, Sanford spokesman Ben Fox said.