Recent HHS leader warns Medicaid struggles ahead

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Congress will be under extreme pressure to cut funding from programs this year, including Medicaid, said immediate past Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson on Tuesday.

"There's going to be tremendous pressure to find off-sets (reductions) to pay for the hurricanes and the war on Iraq," Thompson said in a headliner address at the 15th annual meeting of the National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing and Care Industry (NIC) in Washington. Earlier this year, Congress already passed a budget calling for $11 billion in Medicaid cuts.

Thompson also reiterated his call for revamped healthcare funding responsibilities. Under Thompson's proposal, the federal government would cover 85% of all institutional care costs, with states covering the remaining 15%. Conversely, states would cover 85% of all acute-care costs under his proposal.

In other news from the meeting, NIC leaders announced that the center would execute two studies in conjunction with the American Seniors Housing Association. One will examine national supply costs for all senior living types, while a second will study national construction start-ups in the senior living sphere.

NIC leaders, who are hosting a record 1,600 attendees, also gave out the group's first ever lifetime achievement award to Bill Colson, founder of Holiday Retirement Corporation, Salem, OR.