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Changes to Federal Medicaid Program May Be Put on Hold

  • February 10th, 2004

An aide to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist says that time constraints and the difficulty of moving legislation in an election year mean that health care proposals in the president's budget -- including sweeping changes to the Medicaid program -- might have to wait.

Bill Hoagland, Sen. Frist's director of budget and appropriations, said during a Webcast forum sponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation that given that there are only 62 legislative days scheduled this year, other pressing legislation is likely to crowd the Senate's calendar.

"There are other pieces of legislation we are dealing with -- transportation, welfare reform, tort reform, asbestos -- a lot of issues that fill the plate up pretty quickly," Hoagland said.

A year ago, the Bush administration unveiled a sweeping new proposal to give states more power in administering the Medicaid program, which is a joint state-federal effort. Critics charged that the plan would give states permission to cut benefits for the nation's neediest citizens, including the elderly in nursing homes. (See "Bush Proposes to Give States More Control Over Medicaid," ElderLawAnswers.com, Feb. 3, 2003).

Among the other health issues that will likely not make it onto the Senate's agenda this year are initiatives to cover the nation's uninsured, said Hoagland. Lawmakers may not be ready to deal with health care reform but the voters are, according to nationaljournal.com. The public "is at its lowest point in terms of satisfaction with [their own] health care since 1992," said GOP pollster Bill McInturff at a recent conference.

To read the full nationaljournal.com article, click here.

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Last Modified: 02/10/2004

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