HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt Likely To Appoint Members of Commission To Study Medicaid
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt is expected to select the members of a commission to study Medicaid, which was called for in the fiscal year 2006 budget resolution Congress approved last month, the Wall Street Journal reports. The commission will recommend ways to cut $10 billion from Medicaid over five years and propose longer-term solutions to Medicaid's rising costs.
The announcement that Leavitt would appoint commission members was "disappointing" to some Senate moderates "who pushed in the budget debate for an independent panel," according to the Journal (Harwood, Wall Street Journal, 5/6).
Congress on April 28 approved a $10 billion reduction in Medicaid funding over five years as part of the $2.6 trillion FY 2006 budget resolution. Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), who requested that the commission be included in any proposal to cut Medicaid, last month said the commission should "be conducted by the Institute of Medicine" to ensure credibility. Other media outlets had reported the commission would be appointed by President Bush.
Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the Senate Finance Committee's ranking Democrat, has said he opposes a Leavitt-appointed commission and expressed his opinion to the HHS secretary, according to a Senate aide. The budget resolution is nonbinding, but it sets spending priorities for Congress (California Healthline, 4/29).
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said the commission would be a "fair and balanced" group of federal and state officials. A senior Republican aide said IOM cannot move quickly enough, the Journal reports. According to the Journal, Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) is a possible choice for the commission (Wall Street Journal, 5/6).