HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt named 13 voting members and 15 nonvoting members to a Medicaid review panel that must recommend $10 billion in federal Medicaid cuts by Sept. 1. The one-year commission, mandated by federal budget legislation, has generated controversy, with both the National Governors Association and congressional Democrats refusing to participate. HHS said Leavitt left open two voting spots for current governors. At deadline, the NGA had not returned a call seeking comment. An HHS news release said the commission consisted of health policy leaders from "both sides of the aisle." Former Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist, a Republican, will chair the commission and former Maine Gov. Angus King, an independent, will serve as vice chairman. Voting members represent state health departments and public policy groups. Nonvoting members include: James Anderson, president and chief executive officer, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center; Joseph Marshall, chairman and CEO, Temple University Health System; and Joy Johnson Wilson, director of health policy and federal affairs counsel, National Conference of State Legislatures.
The panel must follow its recommendations on Medicaid cuts with a second report in December 2006 on ways to ensure the program's long-term fiscal viability. The NGA in early June said it felt the association would be most effective if it worked on Medicaid as an independent bipartisan group. In May, Democratic congressional leaders refused Leavitt's invitation to name four nonvoting members, saying Leavitt's sole power to name the commission compromised its non-partisan objectivity. Read the HHS news release. -- by Tony Fong