President Bush signed legislation that, in part, puts a hold on six of seven recently issued Medicaid regulations despite reluctance within the administration to do so. The healthcare provisions were packaged as part of a broader spending initiative meant to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In a statement at the signing, Bush praised many parts of the legislation but did not mention the provisions that block a half-dozen controversial rules that critics charge would take billions from the Medicaid program and potentially limit access to care for the nations poor.
Three of the six rules would have had a direct impact on hospitals, including ones that would limit payments to safety net hospitals, recalculate provider taxes and cut funding for graduate education programs. Three other ruleswhich would limit payments for rehabilitation services, certain case-management programs and school-based transportationwere also blocked as part of the bill. The measure did not, however, stay an additional rulestill in the proposal stagethat limits the types of services that can be done in an outpatient setting.
White House officials have said that the provisions, as written, are needed to rein in abuses that cost the program billions of dollars each year. The Senate approved the House-drafted measure last Thursday. -- by Matthew DoBias