The national Medicaid Commission submitted a first report recommending changes to secure the future of the federal-state program that in many ways paralleled an earlier proposal by the National Governors Association. The report to HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt outlined six short-term changes aimed at saving $10 billion in federal Medicaid spending over four years. Like the governors, the commission recommended increasing beneficiary copays; tightening rules governing asset transfers; and using average manufacturer prices to set Medicaid drug reimbursement instead of average wholesale prices. The last change would yield the largest amount of savings, $4.3 billion over five years, according to the commission. Missing were restrictions on states' use of intergovernmental transfers to increase federal matching funds, a key part of President Bush's Medicaid reform plan. The commission is scheduled to submit a second report in December 2006 on ways to ensure the program's long-term future. Congress is expected to release its own Medicaid plan later this month. Read the commission's report. -- by Tony Fong
Medicaid panel releases first reform recommendations
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