Democrats Likely To Examine Medicaid Policies
Bush administration policies that seek to provide states with more flexibility in the administration of their Medicaid programs "likely will be subject to increased scrutiny when Democrats take control of Congress," The Hill reports. Democrats have long raised concerns about the Bush administration's use of a process that allows states to request waivers of certain federal requirements on Medicaid eligibility, reimbursements and beneficiary contributions.
Since President Bush took office in 2001, HHS has accelerated the waiver approval process, and the number of approvals has increased significantly. In addition, the enactment of the Deficit Reduction Act in February provided states with more flexibility in the administration of their Medicaid programs.
Idaho, Kentucky and West Virginia have used provisions in the law to revise their Medicaid programs, and other states have considered similar actions.
According to The Hill, many Democrats "maintain the changes in eligibility and benefits sought by the administration and some states shift the financial burden of the program off the federal government and onto the backs of poor beneficiaries," but supporters of "enhanced flexibility in the design of states' Medicaid programs counter that the rising costs of the program are unsustainable and that changes need to be made to guarantee that Medicaid benefits are available to the people who need them the most."
Drew Hammill, deputy press secretary for incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said, "We are concerned about various regulations that the administration may issue and are concerned with the implementation of provision in the Deficit Reduction Act."
Incoming House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair John Dingell (D-Mich.) said, "Democrats are concerned about the substantial changes in benefits and out-of-pocket costs that could be imposed on families under the new Deficit Reduction Act provisions. These matters will be explored in greater detail next Congress" (Young, The Hill, 11/29).