Congressional staffers said the bipartisan support for the savings achieved by eligibility tightening indicates the measures are candidates for inclusion in any deal reached to lower future deficits, as part of an agreement to raise the federal debt limit.
Separate bills by Sens. Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), which were introduced July 18, would reduce growth in Medicaid enrollments by up to 1 million people annually beginning in 2014, according to the CBO analysis.
The bills would amend the law's eligibility criteria to include Social Security benefits in the calculations. Without the change, Medicaid enrollment would expand by about 5 million beyond the 16 million to 20 million originally calculated for the health law, according to Richard Foster, the CMS actuary who raised the issue to Congress. The expansion would include married couples with incomes higher than $65,000.
Companion legislation to Enzi's bill was recently introduced by Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.).
“When you have the opportunity to save taxpayers $13 billion, ensure the scarce resources for Medicaid go to the people with the greatest need, and unburden already strained state budgets from paying for a massive new entitlement, well that's something I think you have to do, and do quickly,” Black said in a written statement.