Lawmakers seek delay for new Medicaid rules

Share this content:
Sen. Jay D. Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sen. Jay D. Rockefeller (D-WV)
The House Energy and Commerce Committee has voted 46-0 to delay imminent Medicaid-rule changes that would cut payments and services in the long-term care sector. Most notably, the pending reductions would curtail a major source of indirect funding for facilities: provider taxes.

The Bush administration is seeking the changes as a way to reduce federal outlays by $1.65 billion in fiscal 2008 and 2009.

However, opponents charge that the rules essentially transfer costs to states while harming many existing programs.

Reps. John Dingell (D-MI) and Tim Murphy (R-PA) introduced a House measure that would postpone implementation until April 2009. Similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Olympia Snowe (D-ME) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA). Provider groups support the measures. 

The push to stop the rules also has backing from the nation's governors, who already face budget crunches because of declining revenue tied to the housing crisis. Moreover, Medicaid accounts for 20% or more of state spending.

Dr. Stuart Shapiro, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association (PHCA), called the looming regulations “hard-hearted, short-sighted and contrary to the needs of our nation's seniors.” 
Some House Republicans appeared ready to support the delay.