Governors contest Medicaid cuts floated in debt ceiling talks

The National Governors Association (NGA) is asking the Obama Administration to pull back on proposed Medicaid cuts as part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling, reports The Hill's Healthwatch. Such cuts could reduce payments to hospitals that care for low-income patients.

Instead, the NGA proposes that a portion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act be repealed that currently bars states from cutting eligibility levels for Medicaid prior to 2014, which would herald a significant expansion of the program. Virtually all proposals to trim the rolls prior to that date require a waiver from the federal government.

The NGA is particularly concerned that the proposed cuts to Medicaid linked to debt ceiling negotiations would mix rates of Medicaid and CHIP funding into a single grouping, according to the letter.

"If the blended rate ... is intended to do some good things for the states for us to administer at the ground level, we'd like to have that conversation," Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, a Democrat and NGA chair, told Kaiser Health News.

"If on the other hand it's code for dramatic cuts, that's a different subject. And, unfortunately, that's what most of the governors believe that it is. ... If blended rates is code for cutting benefits and cutting people, that is going to be a huge problem to the states, where we're already struggling because of the recession with increased case loads."

To learn more:
- here's the NGA letter
- read The Hill's Healthwatch article
- read the Kaiser Health News article