Former HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson Says Medicaid Program Requires Broad Reforms
Former HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson on Thursday said that the Medicaid program requires broad reforms and that his inability to address the issue during his four-year tenure at the department was his largest public policy regret, the Washington Times reports. At a luncheon sponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Thompson said, "I really feel sad that what I didn't get done is Medicaid." He added that Medicaid "can't continue on the way it is. It needs a complete transformation" (Higgins, Washington Times, 3/25).
Thompson said that governors rejected his proposal to divide Medicaid into two parts. Under the proposal, states would have covered the cost of acute care for Medicaid beneficiaries, and the federal government would have covered the cost of long-term care.
Thompson also said that the new Medicare prescription drug benefit should allow the HHS secretary to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies for discounts on medications (Pugh, Knight Ridder/Tallahassee Democrat, 3/24). In addition, Thompson "repeated warnings" that the federal government must increase efforts to protect the U.S. food supply from potential terrorist attacks, the Times reports (Washington Times, 3/25).