Congress ponders Medicaid cuts
Medicaid scrutinized as both sides look for cuts
The political toxicity of proposals to change Medicare as part of deficit reduction efforts has increased the focus in Washington on possible cuts to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
The Obama administration has launched initiatives it says will help control spending growth in the $400 billion Medicaid program, which is the third costliest entitlement program after Social Security and Medicare. A complementary effort by congressional Democrats pushed for increasing federal taxes to pay for growth in the program, which covers about 68 million people and is expected to expand by at least 16 million in 2014 under pro- visions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Another 8 million minors are covered by the $11 billion children’s program.
But efforts to maintain and expand Medic-
“Cuts in Medicaid will just mean costs are transferred to hospital ERs, which everyone else pays for.”
—Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.)
aid and CHIP enrollment are running into an increasing focus by congressional Republicans on reducing the size of the programs, which are dually funded by the federal and state govern- ments, or at least allowing governors to do so.
The latest legislative initiative aimed at cutting Medicaid and CHIP growth began to advance last week. That legislation, sponsored by Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), a physician, would allow state governments to reduce their Medicaid and CHIP enrollments as a way to close state budget deficits. States are barred from cutting their enrollments below levels raised with the help of one-time funding provided through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which is known as the maintenance-of-effort requirement.
“Nearly every governor has asked for either repeal or flexibility in maintenance of effort,” Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) said Thursday before the first congressional panel voted to advance the maintenanceof-effort legislation.
The comment was based on the request of 33 Republican governors, who wrote HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in January to ask that she lift the enrollment requirement. Also, Washington Gov. Chris-