HHS secretary calls for stop to resident finance shenanigans

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Newly confirmed Health and Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt says he wants to close any loopholes that allow nursing home residents to transfer or hide assets in order to be Medicaid eligible.

Leavitt also wants to close the loopholes that states use to maximize federal payments to state Medicaid programs. These loopholes could allow states to shift nearly $40 billion in Medicaid costs to the federal government over the next decade, he said.

Leavitt said in a speech Tuesday at the World Health Care Congress that he supports giving states the authority to make changes to Medicaid coverage so that the program offers benefits that resemble private health insurance. Overall, he wants Medicaid to offer greater coverage flexibility. He also seeks tighter financial oversight in the state programs.