Governors To Discuss Proposed Medicaid Reforms at National Governors Association Meeting
Medicaid reform will be a "top agenda item" at the National Governors Association meeting scheduled from Feb. 26 to March 1, and governors might "go beyond overhauling [the program] to include new approaches" to covering low-income state residents, NGA Executive Director Ray Sheppach said Friday at an Alliance for Health Reform panel meeting, CQ HealthBeat reports (CQ HealthBeat , 2/18).
In its FY 2006 budget proposal, the Bush administration seeks to reduce Medicaid funding through a number of provisions, including limits on state claims for federal matching funds, restrictions on transfers of assets by seniors to obtain Medicaid eligibility and reductions in reimbursements for prescription drugs. HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt earlier this month in testimony before the Senate Finance Committee also said that the administration hopes to provide states with more flexibility in Medicaid programs (California Healthline, 2/17).
CMS Administrator Mark McClellan said, "We're going to work closely with (governors) to find ways to use flexibility to get better results. What we're focused on is making it more routine in Medicaid to adopt proven approaches at a lower cost" (Tanner, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 2/20).
At the meeting, governors are expected to address rising Medicaid costs and the "continued erosion of employer-sponsored health care," CQ HealthBeat reports. Governors also likely will discuss a proposed limit on Medicaid administrative expenses, which many state officials oppose. They also are expected to call for more coordination among large employers and federal programs on implementing electronic medical records.
In addition, state officials likely will address increasing requirements and incentives for nursing home care and long-term health care insurance (CQ HealthBeat , 2/18).
At the Alliance for Health Reform meeting, Sheppach "expressed uncertainty" about a proposed commission that would investigate Medicaid reform, CQ HealthBeat reports. Sheppach said that a bill (S 338) that would establish the commission would not give governors adequate representation (CQ HealthBeat , 2/18).
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) said, "I don't believe any one state is going to come up with a panacea for all of America. Each state ... exploring new innovations, will find ideas that can be shared, that will both improve access and reduce costs. That's the only way it'll work" (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 2/20).