National Governors Association Asks Congress for Relief with Medicaid Costs
In a meeting this weekend, the National Governors Association discussed many states' revenue shortfalls, caused in large part by rising Medicaid costs, the New York Times reports. State spending on Medicaid increased 13% last year and now accounts for about 20% of total state spending. Governors attributed the increasing expense of Medicaid to rising numbers of seniors who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. States are responsible for a portion of dually eligible seniors' health expenses, which previously had been covered in total by the federal government (Nagourney, New York Times, 7/15). About seven million seniors are considered dually eligible, and their health expenses account for 35% of the cost of Medicaid. A provision in the Medicare reform bill (HR 4954) approved last month by the House would shift the cost of dual eligibles from states to the federal government. The 30 governors attending the conference also called on Congress to pass a bill (S 2570) sponsored by Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) that would give states $8.9 billion over the next 18 months. Half of that money would be targeted at "relieving the escalating" Medicaid costs, and the other half would be given to states as a block grant. The Bush administration does not support the legislation (Balz, Washington Post, 7/14).
Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton (D), incoming NGA chair, said, "If we could just get 18 months of increased federal assistance, that will help some. By that time, hopefully, our economies will be recovered. Without [the assistance], we will begin cutting back services" (AP/Washington Times, 7/14). Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman (D) said, "Congress and the president need to keep their nose to the grindstone until" the issue of Medicaid is resolved (Zeleny, Chicago Tribune, 7/14). The governors also encouraged Congress to pass bills that would "increase affordability" of Medicare prescription drugs (Arrillaga, AP/Nando Times, 7/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.