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Alabama Medicaid is ranked 42nd in U.S.

MONTGOMERY (AP) — A new study ranks Alabama's Medicaid program 42nd among 50 states, a finding that agency officials say was no surprise because the state runs a bare-bones program that tries to provide basic services to the largest number of people.

The state scored 376.3 out of a possible 1,000 in the evaluation that was released by the Washington-based Public Citizen consumer group Wednesday.

State Medicaid Commissioner Carol Steckel said Thursday the agency spends 98 percent of its budget on health care benefits and only 2 percent on administrative costs, which includes its claims processing system.

Medicaid is a joint state-federal program that provides medical care for low-income pregnant women, children, the disabled and others. It provides health care for nearly 1 million, or one out of five, Alabamians.

The study evaluated each state program's eligibility, scope of services, quality of care and reimbursement. Alabama scored low for eligibility and was third lowest in the nation in the scope of services provided because it failed to cover a number of services, including private duty nursing.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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