PROTECTING THE MEDICAID SAFETY NET ACT OF 2008 -- (Extensions of Remarks - April 23, 2008)
HON. RON PAUL
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TUESDAY, APRIL 22, 2008
* Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I rise in reluctant opposition to H.R. 5613, legislation halting the implementation of a package of new Medicaid rules. The proponents of H.R. 5613 are correct that halting some of these rules will protect needed Medicaid reimbursements for health care providers. However, some of the rules that H.R. 5613 blocks address abuses of Federal Medicaid dollars that should be halted. Greater efforts to ensure Medicaid resources are properly spent will help those health care providers most in need of continued support from the Medicaid program, since a Medicaid dollar lost to fraud and abuse is a dollar that cannot be spent helping hospitals and physicians provide health care to the poor.
* Had members been given the opportunity to offer amendments, we could have fashioned a bill that would have protected needed reimbursements for legitimate health care expenditures while addressing legitimate concerns about misuse of Medicaid funds. Unfortunately, the House leadership chose to deny members the ability to improve this bill, and have a meaningful debate on how to ensure Medicaid's financial stability without denying care to those dependent on the program, by putting this bill on the suspension calendar.
* According to some estimates, failure to implement the proposed regulations could cost the already financially fragile Medicaid system as much as 10 billion over the next several years. Yet, the sponsors of this bill refuse to make a serious effort to address these costs. Mr. Speaker, instead of rushing H.R. 5613 into law, we should be looking for ways to shore up Medicaid by making cuts in other, lower priority programs, using those savings to ensure the short-term fiscal stability of federal entitlement programs while transitioning to a more stable means of providing health care for low-income Americans. I have been outspoken on the areas I believe should be subject to deep cuts in order to finance serious entitlement reform that protects those relying on these programs. I will not go into detail on these cuts, although I will observe that in recent weeks this Congress has authorized billions of new foreign aid spending, yet today we are told we cannot find the money to address Medicaid's long-term financial imbalances.
* Mr. Speaker, H.R. 5613 may provide some short-term benefit to Medicaid providers, however, it does so by further jeopardizing the long-term fiscal soundness of the Medicaid program. Thus, this passage of this bill will ultimately damage the very low-income Americans the bill aims to help.