States Speak Up: Medicaid Spending Among Top Issues

Today's state news reports look to Washington. Medicaid expansions could squeeze states' budgets and some local lawmakers are taking their concerns to counterparts in Congress. At the same time, they hope to carve out room for states to find their own solutions.

Public News Service: State lawmakers are asking for "lower health care costs, a public insurance option, and shared responsibility for these costs by government, employers and individuals" in a petition signed by nearly 1,000 legislators from around the country. The petition also points out that "some states have already made their own reforms that are working" (Thomas, 10/7).

Radio Iowa: State Sen. Jack Hatch, D-Des Moines, will join 24 other state-level lawmakers for a trip to Washington next week. They will lobby Congress to pass the overhaul bill (Henderson, 10/6).

Meanwhile, governors from both parties are expressing strong opinions about proposed Medicaid expansions advanced in reform measures.

The Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail: "A proposed expansion of Medicaid has some governors voicing concern about how states will afford greater coverage in a challenging economy, but Gov. Joe Manchin argues that an expansion focused on prevention will help reduce costs from uncompensated care." Manchin is a Democrat (Saxton, 10/6).

The (Mobile, Ala.) Press-Register: The other gubernatorial view comes from Gov. Bob Riley, who says the plans in Congress have "serious flaws that will have a dire budgetary impact on Alabama." Riley is a Republican (Altman, 10/6).

The Hill: Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, has also criticized plans to expand Medicaid saying they could cost his state up to $735 million over five years. In response, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., agreed with the governor and described plans to expand Medicaid "as an 'unfunded mandate' that could overburden states at a time when many are struggling to manage the recession (Romm, 10/6).

The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch: Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, also a Democrat, said, "the states, with our financial challenges right now, are not in a position to accept additional Medicaid responsibilities." His state could face $922 million in additional spending over five years under one overhaul plan, on top of an $850 million budget gap (Torry and Riskind, 10/7).

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