Legislation to allow states to cut their Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program enrollments was approved by the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee on Thursday.
The panel approved the measure 14-9 in a party-line vote only one week after it was introduced.
The measure would eliminate the so-called maintenance-of-effort requirement included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which mandates that states retain the expanded enrollments that those programs implemented using one-time federal funding provided by the 2009 stimulus law.
The bill would allow enrollment for both public insurance programs to dip by about 400,000 people in 2013, according to the Congressional Budget Office, before Medicaid enrollment greatly expands in 2014 because of the federal healthcare law. The enrollment cuts would allow a total of more than $11 billion in state spending reductions on both programs in the first 10 years. Additionally, it would cut federal deficits by about $2.8 billion over the first 10 years, according to the CBO.
Congressional Republicans said the legislation is in response to the requests of Republican governors, 33 of whom wrote HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in January to ask that she lift the enrollment requirement.
“Currently, on average, Medicaid takes up approximately 25% of state budget—a figure that is sure to rise as 25 million more Americans are made eligible under the PPACA expansion,” said Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), the panel's chairman.