Washington Post Examines Medicaid Reform Efforts by Governors
The Washington Post on Tuesday examined how Medicaid reform remains the "top legislative priority" of governors nationwide amid concerns that the federal government "has not gotten the message." Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) and Virginia Gov. Mark Warner (D), respectively, the current and past chairs of the National Governors Association, last month presented to Congress a bipartisan proposal that would provide states with more authority to administer their Medicaid programs and reduce costs.
The proposal -- which NGA presented as an alternative to a reduction in federal funds for Medicaid proposed by the Bush administration -- includes recommendations that focus on efforts to reduce prescription drug costs, restrict the use of asset transfers to qualify for Medicaid, increase the use of copayments and other cost-sharing practices and expand flexibility to structure services provided to beneficiaries. "We're realists, and if those cuts are going to occur, we'd like them fashioned in a way that has the least fiscal impact on us and has the least effect on the provision of benefits to individuals," Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell (D) said.
However, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the proposal "appears to erase ... long-standing protections" for low-income Medicaid beneficiaries. Meanwhile, Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has met privately with NGA and has indicated that the committee will consider the proposal this fall (Balz, Washington Post, 7/26).