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Senator Santorum Shares Governor Rendell's Commitment to Those Less Fortunate

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Senator Santorum Shares Governor Rendell's Commitment to Those Less Fortunate

October 19, 2005 -
The Honorable Edward G. Rendell
Governor
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
225 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120

Dear Governor Rendell:

Thank you for your correspondence regarding the Medicaid program. Working together we can strengthen the Medicaid program so that it continues to serve its primary purpose - to provide benefits to the most vulnerable Pennsylvanians. We can and must work together to ensure that federal and state choices with regard to Medicaid are policy-driven and do not overburden already strained budgets. Most importantly, we must ensure that policies do not harm beneficiaries, and in fact help beneficiaries through a stronger program that gets resources to people in need, rather than squandering precious taxpayer dollars on fraud, waste, and abuse.

As you know, Medicaid is the fastest growing, and in many cases already the largest, line item on most Governors' budgets. The bipartisan National Governors Association, of which you are a member, has strongly expressed that the Medicaid program is unsustainable in its current form. To its credit, the NGA has eschewed political rhetoric and focused on finding solutions to the Medicaid crisis. In fact, the NGA Medicaid Working Group, which is comprised of 13 Democrat and Republican Governors, testified before Congress and recommended a variety of changes to ensure Medicaid is strengthened and sustained. Responding to this request, the Senate Finance Committee has been diligently working through a policy-driven, deliberative process to find savings in the program. In fact, the National Governors Association recommended many of the policy options that the Senate Finance Committee is considering.

On July 18th of this year, The New York Times published a shocking article that underscored the need for policies that combat fraud, waste, and abuse. A yearlong investigation of the program found that about 40% of the claims, representing approximately $18 billion annually were misspent because of fraud, waste, and abuse. If Pennsylvania has even just a fraction of the fraud, waste, and abuse that New York's Medicaid program suffers from, that could mean billions of dollars in savings to the state, and billions that could be used to better serve the people who rely on Medicaid. Many of the policies that the Senate Finance Committee is considering would give states the tools and incentives to address fraud, waste, and abuse. Everyone wins when fraud, waste, and abuse are eliminated - beneficiaries, taxpayers, and the budgets of state and federal governments.

This budget reconciliation process affords us a meaningful opportunity to put in place good policy that strengthens this vital safety-net program. I have worked closely with my fellow Finance Committee members to put together a package that does not harm beneficiaries - in fact, savings are put back into programs that help those most in need.

With regard to your specific concern regarding the Managed Care Organization Provider Assessment, please rest assured that the Senate Finance Committee is not considering policy that would do away with this tax. I have spent a great deal of time ensuring that the proposal would simply enforce current policy intent that provider taxes must be applied to a provider's entire book of business and that providers cannot segregate out their Medicaid business for the purposes of this tax. Also rest assured that I have made certain that the Senate Finance Committee will include provisions to give states adequate time to modify their Managed Care Organization Provider Assessments, while perhaps even grandfathering current states such as Pennsylvania. I am working with my colleagues to make certain that this policy, and any others under consideration do not adversely affect Pennsylvanians.

As you may know, my work on protecting elderly, disabled, and disadvantaged Pennsylvanians is not limited to my role on the Senate Finance Committee. The Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee was instructed to cut $3 billion in program spending for FYs 2006-2010. During Agriculture Committee consideration of its budget reconciliation package, I strongly and successfully advocated for shielding nutrition programs from funding cuts so that we can continue to provide a safety net for needy Americans. I am pleased that the reconciliation measure, as approved by the Agriculture Committee, contains no reductions in spending in the Food Stamp Program.

As Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, I have taken the lead on crafting the Senate anti-poverty agenda, which embraces the critical role of work, investment, and neighborhood-based solutions in the effort to empower families in need, create opportunity, and reduce poverty. Key initiatives of that agenda include Individual Development Accounts to encourage financial literacy, savings and investment; empowering self-sufficiency through jobs created by the Work Opportunity Tax Credit; and helping low-income families purchase affordable housing through Community Development Home Ownership Tax Credits. I also led the effort in Congress to create Medicare prescription drug coverage, which provides Pennsylvania's seniors with affordable prescription drug coverage to help improve their overall health and quality of life. I have also recently re-introduced the Social Security Guarantee Act to reassure senior citizens that necessary fundamental reform of the Social Security program will not negatively affect their benefits.

I appreciate your interest in the budget reconciliation process. I look forward to continuing to work with you on behalf of all Pennsylvanians. Together we can make a difference for our constituents.

Sincerely,
Rick Santorum
United States Senate

http://santorum.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressOffice.View&ContentRecord_id=1443&Region_id=0&Issue_id=0&CFID=6802519&CFTOKEN=63480384

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