Wilson Urges Budget Committee to Fund Medicaid Commission
Budget Focus Misses Chance to Improve Health
Washington, DC - Congresswoman Heather Wilson today testified in a House Budget Committee hearing to urge $1.5 million in funding for a proposed bipartisan Medicaid Commission.
Wilson introduced a bill last month to create a bipartisan Medicaid Commission, and today urged the Budget Committee to ensure that the budget reflects the need for comprehensive Medicaid reform. Wilson, who chaired the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Medicaid Task Force in the 108th Congress, has been conferring with governors about Medicaid reform and needs in their states.
In today's testimony, Wilson challenged proposed cuts to Medicaid.
"Implementing piecemeal changes that allow us to meet an arbitrary budget number is not real reform. In fact, addressing these issues now through the budget process may inhibit our effort at making more needed, fundamental reforms in the near future," Wilson said. "I do not believe the budget process should drive Medicaid reform or impede our ability to improve it. Policy should drive the budget, not the other way around."
Wilson said that budget proposals must be evaluated as part of comprehensive reform and its overall impact on the Medicaid program. Wilson urged that any savings associated with implementing proposals should be reinvested in the Medicaid program to enhance programs that will improve the health of those who depend on Medicaid.
"I believe implementing these initiatives on their own may endanger the ability of the program to provide access to services for the more than 50 million low-income children, pregnant women, elderly, and disabled covered by Medicaid, including more than 420,000 people in New Mexico," Wilson continued.
"Medicaid is set up to pay claims, not to improve anyone's health. Real Medicaid reform goes far beyond the proposals in this budget. While some of the initiatives in the President's budget may have merit, they do not constitute Medicaid reform."
"Medicaid is administered by the states with joint federal-state financing mechanisms that would make Rube Goldberg proud. States need a waiver from the federal government to implement programs that teach people who to manage chronic disease."
"We need real Medicaid reform that addresses these challenges."
Wilson's bipartisan legislation to create a national Medicaid commission is endorsed by the Congressional Black Caucus, America's Health Insurance Plans, the American Hospital Association, the National Association of Public Hospitals and the American Health Care Association. Donna Christian-Christensen (D-VI), chair of the Health Subcommittee of the Congressional Black Caucus, is an original cosponsor.
The Commission would make recommendations for reforms to strengthen and modernize Medicaid, improving its longterm financial capability to improve the health of low-income Americans.