NGA: Forget about a quick deal on Medicaid reform

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Don't expect President Bush and the nation's governors to quickly patch up differing views on how to make the Medicaid program better and less costly. That assessment was offered by the chairman of the National Governors Association. His group met with Bush earlier this week.

"Getting it right is more important than getting it quick," Gov. Mark Warner (D-VA), who chairs the association, said in the New York Times on Tuesday.

Governors from both parties have challenged the president's plan to trim program spending by $60 billion during the next 10 years. The president's budget package would achieve those goals by eliminating state funding loopholes ($40.5 billion) reducing payments to pharmacists ($15.1 billion) and tightening nursing home eligibility ($4.5 billion). Many governors see the plan as a cost-shifting move that would saddle them with payments that the federal government previously covered.

However, both sides agree that non-poor citizens should not receive Medicaid assistance for nursing home care, that drug overpayments can be trimmed and that states should have more flexibility in managing Medicaid co-payments.

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