Governors and state officials are raising concerns about congressional health reform proposals to expand Medicaid and transfer more of the costs to states, CQ HealthBeat reports.
Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has said that expanding and improving Medicaid is one of the main objectives in overhauling the U.S. health care system.
In recent weeks, officials from the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Governors Association have issued statements and written letters to congressional leaders, warning that many states will not be able to pay for expanded Medicaid programs.
In a recent letter to the leadership of the Senate Finance Committee, Vermont Gov. James Douglas (R) and West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) -- co-chairs of NGA's Health and Human Services Committee -- called on senators to provide states with permanent, full funding for the expenses related to a Medicaid expansion.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) said that California administers one of the most efficient Medicaid programs in the U.S., but funding is still a problem. In a letter to congressional leaders on Friday, he wrote that "we simply cannot be locked into a cost structure that is unsustainable" and that would cause chronic budget shortfalls.
Senate Budget Committee Chair Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) has said the Finance Committee is committed to ensuring that governors are "comfortable" with their work on Medicaid, CQ HealthBeat reports (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 8/3).
This week, Baucus is expected to meet with several governors in Washington, D.C., to discuss the Medicaid expansion plans (American Health Line, 8/3).