Bush Administration Would Accept Short-Term Moratorium On Medicaid Regulations

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HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt on Tuesday said thatthe Bush administration would accept a short-term moratorium on two of sevenproposed Medicaid regulations to give lawmakers time to reach an agreement onthe changes, CongressDaily reports (Johnson, CongressDaily,4/29). Under the regulations, states could not use federal Medicaid funds tohelp pay for physician training. The regulations also would place new limits onMedicaid reimbursements to hospitals and nursing homes operated by state andlocal governments and limit coverage of rehabilitation services for individualswith disabilities and mental illnesses. In addition, the bill would provide $25million annually for efforts to fight Medicaid fraud (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 4/25).

Leavitt said, "We're trying to put a package together where the five wouldremain and we would extend [graduate medical education funding] and[intergovernmental transfers to public hospitals] for a period where we triedto find a solution," adding, "We would defer the implementation untilAugust, and if we're not able to do that, it would be deferred untilMarch." Leavitt reiterated President Bush's intention to veto legislation(HR 5613) that would place a moratorium on all seven rules, saying that thereare "ambiguities in the law that are being exploited in many ways"and that "need to be fixed" (CongressDaily, 4/29).

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Legislation

Leavitt's statements comeafter the House last week approved the bill by a veto-proof majority. Thelegislation would block the regulations from taking effect until April 1, 2009.Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday tried to pass the bill byvoice vote, but Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) objected. Before the bill can advancefurther, Reid will have to file a cloture petition, which "would consumevaluable Senate floor time that Reid needs for other bills," according to CQToday (Wayne, CQ Today, 4/29). Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) on Tuesday said he wants to attach thelegislation to the Iraqwar supplemental spending bill.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday said he supports adeal with the administration, saying, "They've singled out the two mostcontroversial rules. I don't support a moratorium for graduate medicaleducation, for example, so I'm glad they're willing to negotiate on that,"adding, "I think the [Bush administration] proposal is reasonable, andhopefully it will lead the Congress to negotiate rather than trying to passsome bill out of the Congress" (CongressDaily, 4/29).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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