Democrats Oppose Medicaid Recommendations
A report released earlier this month by a federal commission recommending changes to Medicaid has "set up a likely clash between the new Democratic Congress and the Bush administration," the New York Times reports (Pear, New York Times, 11/23).
The commission was appointed last year by HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt to create two reports recommending changes to Medicaid. Recommendations for Congress in the commission's second report included allowing states to place dual eligibles -- beneficiaries eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare -- in Medicaid Advantage plans modeled after Medicare Advantage plans (American Health Line, 11/20). The panel also recommended that the sickest Medicaid beneficiaries, including nursing home residents and people with disabilities, should be placed in managed care plans and that states should be given more freedom to alter benefits and eligibility.
Grace-Marie Turner, a commission member and president of the Galen Institute, said, "People who rely on both Medicaid and Medicare are the most vulnerable beneficiaries, but in most cases, nobody is coordinating their care."
The Times reports that the report "drew a swift negative response from Democrats who will be responsible for Medicaid in the new Congress."
Incoming Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said that many of the commission's proposals would make it more difficult for "the most vulnerable Americans" to get comprehensive care.
Meanwhile, Leavitt spokesperson Christina Pearson said the secretary "definitely supports more flexibility for states to meet the needs of different population groups" (New York Times, 11/23).