The National Governors Association issued a blueprint of its ideas on Medicaid reform and said its members would not participate on HHS' Medicaid Commission if asked. The association's announcement is another blow to the commission being formed by HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt. Last week, Democratic congressional leaders refused Leavitt's invitation to name four nonvoting members to the commission, saying they would not accept an advisory role. Federal budget legislation required creation of the commission to develop a long-term strategy to control Medicaid costs and to find $10 billion in near-term savings in the program. The NGA said it felt much of the necessary work had already been completed on Medicaid reform and that the association would be most effective if it worked as an independent bipartisan group.
The association's interim Medicaid reform policy, subject to change and a vote by all the governors, includes several elements. Among them: tax credits to help low-income people buy health insurance; greater beneficiary cost-sharing; more scrutiny of beneficiary assets in determining long-term-care coverage; and increased rebates from drugmakers. The association will hold a meeting of its full membership and may release a final Medicaid plan at that time. Read the interim policy. -- by Tony Fong