Some federal lawmakers expressed concern about the National Governors Association's preliminary plan for Medicaid reform, as governors began to push the proposal in Washington. The proposal, which still requires a vote by the full NGA membership, includes new Medicaid copayments not allowed under current law. "We must keep in mind Medicaid is a safety-net program," said Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), ranking minority member on the Senate Finance Committee, which heard testimony from governors. The NGA issued a preliminary plan earlier this month to stave off $10 billion in federal Medicaid cuts and ensure the program's long-term fiscal viability. While the governors said new copayments would reduce overutilization and allow for expanded coverage, some federal lawmakers were cool to the idea, saying higher out-of-pocket costs could reduce beneficiaries' access to services. Read the preliminary plan.
In other Washington news, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) introduced a bill to create tax deductions for long-term-care insurance, which was referred to the Senate Finance Committee. The House Ways and Means Committee will hear companion legislation. -- by Tony Fong and Joseph Mantone