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Bush Medicaid Panel Proposes Moving Nursing Home Residents into Managed Care

  • November 23rd, 2006

Moving nursing home residents into managed care plans is among the recommendations that will be included in the final report of the Bush administration's Medicaid Commission.

The commission, created as part of a congressional budget resolution in 2005, was charged with the task of making long-term recommendations for the federal health care program for low-income individuals, including nursing home residents who cannot pay for their own care. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt chose the panel's 12 voting members. Democratic lawmakers were offered a non-voting role, but declined to participate, with Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) calling the study commission "nothing but a farce."

The commission's members adopted the recommendations by a vote of 11 to 1, and are drafting a report to be submitted to Leavitt in December.

Among the proposals is that states should be allowed to enroll some of the sickest Medicaid recipients, including nursing home residents and people with disabilities, in managed care plans. The commission said that such a move would "provide a medical home and better coordinated care' for those who are covered by both Medicaid and Medicare, whose care is now often fragmented. The proposals would also give states greater "flexibility" in altering benefits and eligibility for Medicaid recipients.

The commission's recommendations are unlikely to be well received by the new Democratic Congress.

Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), who will be the new chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, dismissed the study panel as 'a hand-picked commission stacked against working families.'

Meanwhile, John C. Rother, policy director of AARP, said, 'In some states, flexibility means cutting benefits.'

The lone vote against the recommendations came from Gwendolyn G. Gillenwater, a commission member who is policy director of the American Association of People With Disabilities.

'People with disabilities have not had good experience with managed care,' Gillenwater said. 'We need federal protections and safeguards. People with disabilities should at least have a choice of two managed care plans. And what are your choices if you opt out of managed care? The alternatives are getting more and more limited.'

For an article in the New York Times on the commission's recommendations, click here. (Free registration required and article is available free of charge for only one week.)

For a paper from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities entitled "Medicaid Commission Recommendations Raise Serious Concerns," click here.

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Last Modified: 11/23/2006

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