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Democrats Refuse Participation in Medicaid Study Commission

  • May 27th, 2005

Democratic lawmakers have announced that they will not be part of the study commission that will recommend ways to trim Medicaid by $10 billion over the next five years.

The commission was created as part of the fiscal year 2006 budget resolution approved by Congress. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt will name the panel's 15 voting members, while congressional participants will have a non-voting role. Many lawmakers and advocacy groups have expressed concern about the impartiality of a commission whose voting members will be appointed by the Bush administration.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Wa.) said, "The action today by the Democratic House and Senate leadership should send a clear message that the Medicaid commission is nothing but a farce."

In a joint statement, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that not only did the commission lack "even the air of bipartisanship," but that they fundamentally disagree with its premise that the commission "should make recommendations on how to cut Medicaid outlays by $10 billion by Sept. 1."

Ron Bonjean, a spokesperson for House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), said, "It's unfortunate that, once again, the Democrats have chosen to play partisan politics with an issue as important as the Medicaid commission."

GOP Lawmaker Says Cuts Will Not Come Solely From Medicaid

Meanwhile, House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Chair Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) said that the $10 billion in Medicaid cuts his subcommittee will be charged with making would not come solely from Medicaid. However, he listed tightening regulations for Medicaid asset transfers as among the possible cuts. Deal said the National Governors Association proposal expected in early June on Medicaid reform will be "a tremendous step in the right direction if we want to make some changes" (CQ HealthBeat, 5/25).

To read a Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report on the Democrats' stance, go to: http://www.cq.com/corp/show.do?page=products_cqhealthbeat

The full text of the commission's charter is available at: http://www.cms.hhs.gov/faca/mc/default.asp

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Last Modified: 05/27/2005

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