Bush administration could cut Medicaid funding, healthcare experts say

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State and health officials are bracing for possible cuts to Medicaid by the Bush administration, news reports indicated Monday.

During a healthcare conference in New Orleans, healthcare analysts said last week the president could be working to reduce federal Medicaid payments in an attempt to slash the $413 billion federal deficit. "There is immense pressure to reduce the deficit," one attendee said. "Medicaid is sitting out there as a big target."

The administration is considering new initiatives to curb states' Medicaid spending, reduce improper payments and find ways to help states save money, the New York Times reported. Spending for the federal and state financed program has sharply expanded in recent years. For prescription drugs alone, Medicaid spending soared to $34 billion in 2003, from $13.6 billion in 1998.