Senate Republicans introduced legislation Thursday to change most of Medicaid into a system of state block grants.
GOP bill to revamp Medicaid introduced in Senate
The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), would implement a provision included in Republicans' House-passed budget.The bill would transition Medicaid from the current open-ended funding formula that provides a federal match for state funds with a system of fixed grants based on the number of each state's residents at or below the federal poverty level. The current funding system would remain for so-called dual eligible beneficiaries and people with disabilities, although states could use managed care for them.
“Our broken Medicaid program shows that access to a government health care program does not guarantee access to health care,” Coburn, a physician, said in a written statement, in an apparent reference to the 2010 healthcare law that would add at least 16 million more enrollees to Medicaid by 2014. “Our bill will help fix a program that denies patients' access to 40% of doctors.”
The legislation would allow states to direct more money to raising provider reimbursements to increase access to care, said Republicans, instead of expanding enrollments. It's also the latest example of a Republican push-back against the recent and planned expansions of Medicaid.
Senate Democrats attacked Republicans' push for cutting Medicaid enrollments to reduce its ballooning costs as “wrong.”
“They talk about Medicaid like it's a bad word,” Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) said at a Thursday press conference.
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