Will newly empowered Congressional Dems rein in the Bush Administration’s degrees of freedom in negotiating wide ranging waivers with state Medicaid programs? The topic is covered in The Hill and the answer is a definite “maybe:”
“Democrats are concerned about the substantial changes in benefits and out-of-pocket costs that could be imposed on families under the new Deficit Reduction Act provisions. These matters will be explored in greater detail next Congress,” incoming House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) told The Hill in a written statement. …
An aide to incoming Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) stressed that “it’s too early to talk about specifics on entitlement reform,” but added that Baucus has criticized the administration’s use of the waiver process in the past. Outgoing Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) also has expressed concern about the waiver process.
This issue cuts both ways. Some states have used this flexibility to limit eligibility and benefits to poor folks. Other states, such as Massachusetts, have used this flexibility to negotiate creative new coverage plans. Hmmmm — let’s limit flexibility to do bad things and expand it to do good things?? Hey, it’s holiday season and we’re allowed to dream, right?