Healthcare Business News

GOP lawmakers ask governors for ideas on improving Medicaid

By Jessica Zigmond
Posted: May 23, 2011 - 5:45 pm ET

Republican leaders in both chambers of Congress on Monday sent a letter to the nation's 50 governors asking for their ideas on how to improve the Medicaid program.

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Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, expressed concern about the quality of care provided to Medicaid recipients and the levels of waste, fraud and abuse in the program. The letter said that Medicaid is bankrupting federal and state budgets, and that the federal government will spend $4.6 trillion on Medicaid over the next 10 years.

“At the state level, Medicaid spending now consumes nearly a quarter of state government budgets—a significant driver of the current $175 billion collective state budget shortfall,” the lawmakers wrote in their correspondence. “Medicaid spending routinely crowds out other state priorities such as education and law enforcement,” they continued. “Fewer than 5 million individuals used Medicaid services in the program’s first year, but today nearly one in four Americans is on Medicaid and half those newly covered by PPACA will be on Medicaid,” they said, referring to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Upton and Hatch said governors are “in the best position to tell Washington how to fix Medicaid,” and asked for the state leaders to offer insight on the challenges they face and the suggestions they have for making the program better.

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