GOP Governors Seek Medicaid Relief

By: - January 13, 2011 12:00 am


SEEKING RELIEF:   In a  letter to the White House last week, 33 Republican governors and governors-elect asked the Obama administration to ease a restriction in the new health care reform law that prevents them from cutting Medicaid enrollment between now and 2014.   “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 wrote. Nearly all states are likely to have a tough time meeting next’s year’s Medicaid budgets, because joblessness has resulted in higher rolls and because federal stimulus dollars aimed at propping up the federal-state program for the poor will end July 1. The Wall Street Journal quoted an administration spokesman saying  that”We’re exploring options to continue to assist states.”

 HOLDING STEADY: Despite the toll the recession has taken on state budgets, nearly all states maintained or expanded enrollment in both Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Plan in 2010, according to a new report from the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. Arizona was the only state that saw reduced participation by children and was one of just two states that cut benefits for low-income families, according to an article in The Arizona Republic .

DEMOCRATS DEFEND HEALTH REFORM:   The Obama administration has launched a campaign to defend its health care reform law just as the U.S. House of Representatives prepares to vote on repeal of the new law. At a rally in Boston, The Boston Globe reported, officials from the Massachusetts office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said that an estimated 9,800 young adults in the state would lose insurance coverage through their parents’ health plans if the law is repealed.   “People keep calling this political theater,” the Globe quoted HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius saying, “but unfortunately the theater has huge consequences for the American public.”

MORE STATES JOIN HEALTH CARE LAWSUIT: Attorneys general in at least four additional states have announced they will follow 20 others in filing lawsuits aimed at overturning the administration’s new health care law. Kansas’ Derek Schmidt said he would join a multi-state lawsuit, the Wichita Business Journal reported. Maine’s William Schneider made a similar announcement, according to the Bangor Daily News . Wisconsin’s J.B. Van Hollen also said he would file a case, The Christian Science Monitor reported. Oklahoma’s Scott Pruitt said the state would file its own lawsuit seeking to overturn federal health care reform, the Tulsa World reported.

CHRISTIE PROPOSES MEDICAID CUTS:   In an effort to close a .5 billion budget deficit, New Jersey’s Republican governor, Chris Christie, may propose slashing both Medicaid and health benefits for state employees, Bloomberg reported. Like all other states, New Jersey will lose its Medicaid subsidies under the federal stimulus program starting July 1. On state employee benefits, Bloomberg quoted Christie saying, “We need to get at the benefits and we need to get realistic with folks and tell them the truth: promises were made that can’t be kept.”


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Christine Vestal

Christine Vestal covers mental health and drug addiction for Stateline. Previously, she covered health care for McGraw-Hill and the Financial Times.