The Leadership Conference is working diligently to see that Tom Perez is confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Labor. Perez is an eminently qualified public servant and consensus builder who has dedicated his career to ensuring that all individuals are treated fairly and have the opportunity to succeed. He has served with integrity and distinction at the local, state and national level, compiling an outstanding record of achievement.
Medicaid Commission Recommendations Could Save $11 Billion, But at What Cost?
Feature Story by Tyler Lewis - 9/27/2005The Medicaid Commission submitted a report to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) September 1 with recommendations for cutting $11 billion from the Medicaid program over the next five years that include higher co-pays on expensive drugs.
Medicaid currently serves more than 50 million Americans. It was authorized by Title XIX of the Social Security Act of 1965 and was intended to provide health care to low-income Americans who would not otherwise be able to afford it.
The National Women's Law Center, joined by Families USA and 34 national organizations said in a September 8 letter to the Senate Finance, Senate Budget, House Energy and Commerce and House Budget Committees that while co-payments are intended to deter overuse, imposing them could "go beyond limiting overuse" and "cause patients to avoid or delay essential medical care."
But Sen. Max Baucus, D. Mont., said of the report, "I'm...heartened that the commission did not recommend a number of proposals which, in my view, may have harmed Medicaid beneficiaries' access to care."
Referring to its August 29 update to a preliminary report on Medicaid cuts, the National Governors Association said, "The Governors appreciate the fact that the Medicaid Commission has come to many of the same policy conclusions that are recommended in this paper."
However, Families USA and many physicians around the country believe the recommendations benefit drug companies far more than beneficiaries. Allowing states the discretion to increase copayments "could deter low-income people from seeking necessary medical care," said Dee Mahan, Deputy Director of Health Policy for Families USA in a statement.
In a statement, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R. Iowa., said the Commission's recommendation will be considered in the process to meet budget reconciliation instructions to cut $10 billion dollars from the federal budget. Opponents to Medicaid cuts have claimed that Medicaid has been targeted unfairly as the sole means for achieving these cuts.
"More emphasis could have been put on getting rid of institutional bias and providing home and community-based services, but in the end, the report is much better than it could have been," said Commissioner Gwen Gillenwater, Senior Director of Policy and Outreach for American Association for People with Disabilities.
The Medicaid Commission was chartered in May by HHS Secretary Michael O. Leavitt to report on short term recommendations for cutting $10 billion from Medicaid over five years on September 1 and make longer-term recommendations for the future of Medicaid by December 31, 2006.