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HHS Sec­re­tary Kath­leen Se­be­lius is­sued gov­er­nors a se­ries of sug­ges­tions for re­duc­ing their mas­sive Med­i­caid costs.

HHS Sec­re­tary Kath­leen Se­be­lius is­sued gov­er­nors a se­ries of sug­ges­tions for re­duc­ing their mas­sive Med­i­caid costs. Her move also comes as a grow­ing num­ber of states con­sider far-reach­ing cuts to their Med­i­caid pro­grams. In a let­ter to gov­er­nors, Se­be­lius out­lined po­ten­tial cost savers within the fed­er­al­state pro­gram and of­fered “new tools and re­sources to achieve both short-term sav­ings and longer-term sus­tain­abil­ity while pro­vid­ing high-qual­ity care to the cit­i­zens of your states.” The let­ter em­pha­sized the flex­i­bil­ity states have to re­shape their Med­i­caid of­fer­ings with­out seek­ing a com­plex fed­eral waiver, such as the “op­tional ben­e­fits” on which states spent a com­bined $100 bil­lion in 2008, ac­cord­ing to an HHS state­ment. Se­be­lius also promised to “ex­pe­dite re­view of state ideas” be­yond those sug­gested in the let­ter. Such over­tures may aim to re­verse the in­creas­ing trend in re­cent months of states con­sid­er­ing cuts to their Med­i­caid pro­grams as a way to elim­i­nate loom­ing bud­get deficits stem­ming from the re­cent re­ces­sion. Sen. Or­rin Hatch (R-Utah) dis­missed Se­be­lius’ let­ter as “more plat­i­tudes” and called for lift­ing fed­eral re­stric­tions on states’ abil­i­ties to en­act deep cuts with­out los­ing match­ing funds.

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