Worried that Medicaid will become an entitlement program for the middle class, a small group of House Republicans has asked HHS about a healthcare reform law provision that could add about 5 million more beneficiaries to the federal program.
At issue is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's use of Modified Adjusted Gross Income, or MAGI, to determine Medicaid eligibility. In a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (PDF), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and three members of his committee cited testimony earlier this year from Richard Foster, the CMS' chief actuary, that said if a strict application of the MAGI is applied then an “additional 5 million or more Social Security early retirees would be potentially eligible for Medicaid coverage.”
The letter referred to a report from the Associated Press this week that found this newly eligible population would include Americans with annual incomes of about $64,000.
“According to the CMS Actuary, the president's expansion of Medicaid in 2014 could add nearly 25 million Americans to the Medicaid program,” stated the letter from Upton and Reps. Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce health subcommittee; Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), chairman of the oversight and investigations subcommittee; and Michael Burgess (R-Texas), a physician who serves as vice chairman of the health subcommittee. “If this expansion is fully implemented, at least 1 in 4 Americans will become a Medicaid recipient.”
The congressmen asked Sebelius if the administration is aware of the MAGI provision and if it would be support efforts to repeal it. They've requested a response within two weeks.