HHS nominee leaves open possibility for federal Medicaid cuts

Share this content:

The next person likely to become the nation's top healthcare official says that he "refused to rule out" Medicaid budget cuts and added he would not confirm whether the Bush administration planned to replace the current Medicaid structure with block grants to reduce costs.

Mike Leavitt, the nominee for the post of Health and Human Services secretary, made the comments during his confirmation hearing in Washington this week.

The likelihood that Bush will cut Medicaid, which provides a majority of funding for nursing homes, has elicited strong reaction from legislators and healthcare advocates in recent days. The National Governors Association met this week in Washington D.C. to consider Medicaid reform proposals.

Leavitt said in testimony before the Senate Finance Committee that the Department of Health and Human Services could impose limits on optional Medicaid benefits, which are used by about two-thirds of beneficiaries.

The Senate Finance Committee late Wednesday reportedly put off a vote on Leavitt's nomination because of lack of a quorum. His confirmation, however, is widely expected.