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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.