Several lawmakers asked congressional leaders to indefinitely delay upcoming Medicaid cuts because of the strain imposed by Hurricane Katrina. The Senate Finance Committee has a Sept. 16 deadline to introduce legislation that would cut up to $10 billion from the program over four years. Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and other Republican leaders have said they plan to move forward with Medicaid legislation despite Katrina, although Grassley has said the deadline for action by his committee may be extended a month. In a letter to Grassley, four senators -- Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) -- said with Medicaid a major source of healthcare for Katrina survivors, "we believe it is prudent and necessary to delay action that would ultimately reduce available funding and possibly divert the focus of program staff away from relief efforts." Separately, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), joined by other lawmakers, sent a letter to several Republican congressional leaders also seeking an indefinite delay in Medicaid cuts.
In other Washington news, Dean Rosen, the top healthcare adviser to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), will join the Washington lobbying firm Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti Sept. 16. Prior to working for Frist, Rosen was senior vice president of policy at the Health Insurance Association of America. -- by Tony Fong