Governors Seek More Help With Medicaid Costs

At a Capitol Hill hearing Tuesday, GOP governors reiterated complaints about the fiscal pressures imposed by Medicaid and said President Barack Obama's recent flexibility proposal would not address the burden created by the health law's Medicaid requirements. But Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, the only Democrat to testify, saw the event as "an opportunity" rather than "an inquisition." Meanwhile, news outlets also reported on a meeting between Obama and a group of Republican governors on the same Medicaid issues.

The New York Times: Governors Seek Help On Medicaid Costs
Governors told Congress on Tuesday that President Obama had not gone far enough in proposing to let states opt out of major provisions of the new health care law in 2014, and they said they needed more immediate relief from the growing financial burden of Medicaid (Pear, 3/1).

The Washington Post: Republicans Shift Focus To Medicaid Complaints
A day after President Obama said he would support amending the health care law so states can opt out of key provisions sooner, Republicans sought to shift the rhetorical battle back to an issue that would be largely unaffected by the president's proposal: the impact of the law's Medicaid requirements on state budgets (Aizenman, 2/1).

Kaiser Health News: Miss. Gov. Barbour: 'We Shouldn't Have to Kowtow' To Feds On Medicaid Rules
The disagreement between the Obama administration and Republican governors over how much say the federal government should have over Medicaid spending escalated again today. At a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, Gov. Haley Barbour made it clear that he wants control over how to spend Mississippi's Medicaid money (Carey, 3/1).

The Boston Globe: Patrick Defends Mass. Health Care
The loaded title of the congressional hearing was "The Consequences of ObamaCare." And the introduction before testimony included this caustic comment from a GOP congresswoman: "Looking forward to what you have to say about a failed program in your state, MassachusettsCare." But for Deval Patrick, the only Democratic governor asked to discuss implications of the national health care overhaul yesterday before the Republican-run House Committee on Energy and Commerce, the moment was more of an opportunity than an inquisition (Emery, 3/2).

Meanwhile —

Bloomberg: Obama Promise On Medicaid Leaves Republicans Christie, Brownback Doubtful
Republican governors said President Barack Obama may not move fast enough to ease the burden of soaring health care costs that are driving the $125 billion in projected deficits facing U.S. states. After meeting with Obama at the White House, Republicans including New Jersey's Chris Christie and Sam Brownback of Kansas said they doubted the president's pledge to give them greater flexibility to run Medicaid, the health care program for the poor. The meeting came at the end of the National Governors Association's session in Washington yesterday. Maine's Paul LePage said he's asking the federal government to let his state scale back eligibility rules for Medicaid, which now covers residents with income double the poverty rate (Selway and Niquetta, 3/1).

The Associated Press: GOP Governors And Obama At Impasse Over Medicaid
Strained state budgets and a new crew of Republican governors have combined to reopen the debate over Medicaid, the health care program for the poorest and sickest Americans. GOP governors want control of the purse strings and leeway to rewrite coverage and payment rules. So far President Barack Obama has turned them down, but he may be forced to give some ground if negotiations to reduce federal debt get serious later this year (3/1).

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