GOP Looks To Reshape Medicaid; Democrats Question HHS Stance On State Cuts

Republicans are gearing up to make suggested changes to the Medicaid system, one GOP lawmaker reports. At the same time, some congressional Democrats are unhappy with the administration's efforts to help states find trims in the program. Also, a Texas news organization looks at the disparities in state Medicaid payments.

Wall Street Journal: Republicans To Propose Overhaul To Medicaid
House Republicans are preparing to propose a major shake-up of the Medicaid health-care program for the poor, a first step in their drive to overhaul federal entitlements, according to a member of the House Budget Committee. Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R., S.C.) told constituents at a town hall meeting in Lancaster on Thursday that the committee soon would unveil a budget resolution for fiscal 2012 that recommends revamping Medicaid to allow states more latitude in spending federal money. "We're getting ready to offer people the first real, substantive discussion on a major entitlement—Medicaid—in my lifetime," the congressman said (Boles and Hook, 3/26).

The Hill: Dems Question HHS Menu Of Medicaid Cuts
An Obama administration letter outlining potential Medicaid cuts to help states balance their budgets was "cruel" and "disappointing," according to several prominent Democrats. The lawmakers are concerned the letter will encourage states to clip health coverage for some of the country's poorest people amid a poor economy when they could use the benefits most. ... The suggested strategies are wide-ranging, including efforts to rein in fraud, shift patients into managed care and encourage generic drugs in lieu of name brands. But atop the list are ways states can scale back non-mandatory benefits and shift higher costs onto Medicaid patients. ... (Rep. Dennis) Kucinich, a long-time advocate for a single-payer healthcare system, is wondering why the country's most vulnerable populations should shoulder the burden of state efforts to balance budgets (Lillis, 3/27).

Texas Tribune/New York Times: Health Procedures' Costs Vary Widely Across State
The cost of common medical procedures paid for by Medicaid — the joint state-federal health care program for indigent children, the disabled and the very poor — varies dramatically by hospital and region, according to a Texas Tribune analysis of claims by and payments to hundreds of hospitals statewide (Ramshaw, 3/26).

The Texas Tribune also offer an interactive tool to see what Medicaid pays individual hospitals for specific treatments (Murphy and Aaronson, 3/26).

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