government

Power to change Medicaid eligibility sought by GOP governors

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Jan. 17, 2011

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Thirty-three Republican governors sent a letter on Jan. 7 to President Obama as well as House and Senate leaders asking for the ability to change state Medicaid eligibility.

Medicaid maintenance-of-effort requirements in the national health reform law prevent states from reducing eligibility below levels that existed when the law was enacted on March 23, 2010. However, states can request changes to their Medicaid programs using Dept. of Health and Human Services waivers, although such waivers can require several months to process.

The governors said the Medicaid maintenance requirements are forcing states into difficult financial decisions because they mandate billions in Medicaid spending. States have enacted large budget cuts, but many still face multibillion-dollar deficits in fiscal 2012, which begins on July 1 in most states.

"The effect of the federal requirements is unconscionable; the federal requirements force governors to cut other critical state programs, such as education, in order to fund a 'one-size-fits-all' approach to Medicaid," the governors' letter states.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2011/01/17/gvbf0117.htm.

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