CMS administrator defends Bush's Medicaid reform proposal

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Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Dennis G. Smith defended President Bush's 2003 reform proposal for Medicaid at the National Conference of State Legislatures meeting in Washington, D.C. Friday. A National Governors Association task force rejected the administration's proposal.

Smith said the proposal would have been beneficial for state governments because it would have given the states increased flexibility in exchange for agreeing to federal allotments.

"We can make those dollars stretch further," Smith said. Over the next decade, the federal government will spend $2.7 trillion on Medicaid, according to Smith.

Meanwhile, a third of the 43 governors who have delivered state-of-the-state addresses as of March 8 supported efforts to curtail rising Medicaid costs, according to a report by the NGA.

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson has said recently that he would like to restart Medicaid reform negotiations with the nation's governors.