Two new proposed rules that would give states a wider berth to tailor their Medicaid plans to better fit their patient population drew fire from at least one member of Congress who said it would result in increased costs for low-income families.
At a time when our economy is suffering and more Americans may become eligible for Medicaid, we should be looking for ways to bolster the program, not weaken it by scaling back benefits and shifting costs, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, said in a written statement.
Under the proposed rules, states would be allowed to open their Medicaid programs to a broader base of health insurance plans, and providers would be allowed to collect payment upfront from all but the poorest Medicaid recipients before care is provided. Also, hospitals would be allowed to charge Medicaid recipients if they receive care through the emergency department for problems that are otherwise not deemed critical or could have been treated elsewhere.
These new rules recognize that states are in the best position to design plans that provide Medicaid beneficiaries better healthcare for the same or even lower cost, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said in a news release. The rules, published today in the Federal Register, will have a 30-day public comment period. -- by Matthew DoBias