Governors Weigh In on Medicaid Changes
Governors on Monday "expressed guarded optimism" that recent changes to Medicaid in the budget reconciliation law could help states curb rising costs, CQ Today reports. The changes are aimed at giving states more flexibility in their Medicaid programs and allowing increased cost-sharing among certain groups. However, lawmakers at the National Governors Association winter meeting did not endorse further changes proposed by the Bush administration, including a proposed $13.6 billion in savings over five years from a change to the drug reimbursement formula and limits on an accounting practice that some states used to increase the federal share of Medicaid costs. According to CQ Today, "members of Congress might be reluctant to engage in another months-long battle over entitlement cuts, particularly in an election year."
CMS Administrator Mark McClellan encouraged states to consider different Medicaid structures, such as a proposed system in Kentucky in which the state would offer four different plans aimed at different populations. He said, "New ideas can now move forward as a result of" the reconciliation law.
McClellan also promoted Bush's proposal to increase the use of electronic health records and make pricing and quality information more available.
Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) said that she and other state officials were concerned about a lack of federal standards for health information technology.
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) said of the Medicaid changes, "We're pleased. It's not everything we wanted, but it's a big help."
New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) said he is "deeply concerned" about the number of uninsured U.S. residents, adding that he wanted Medicaid to be considered the "physician of last resort" after exhausting other options (Schuler, CQ Today, 2/27).
Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) said he was pleased with the reforms already enacted but would be wary of future Medicaid cost shifts, according to CongressDaily (Koffler, CongressDaily, 2/27).