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Further Changes To S. Con. Res. 13 Pursuant

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. KOHL. Madam President, I rise to discuss language in the Reid substitute amendment to H.R. 3590 that would have a dramatic effect on Wisconsin's Medicaid Program. I would like to converse about this with two of my distinguished colleagues--the other Senator from my home State of Wisconsin, Senator Feingold, and Senator Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

I commend Senator Baucus's long and hard work in crafting this historical piece of legislation, and today, I seek clarification of one piece of this bill.

Mr. FEINGOLD. I also seek clarification of this piece of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, specifically in section 2001, regarding the definition of individuals that would be considered newly eligible under Medicaid.

Mr. BAUCUS. I thank the Senator. I would be pleased to enter into a colloquy with the Senators from Wisconsin on this subject.

Mr. KOHL. I thank the Senator. Section 2001 of the legislation describes which individuals in each State will be deemed ``newly eligible'' for Medicaid. It is my understanding that the Federal Government will provide 100 percent of the funds to cover this group of newly eligibles from 2014 to 2016 and that States will be provided with their current law FMAP rates, which are below 100 percent, for individuals already covered. Is this correct?

Mr. BAUCUS. I thank the Senator for the question. Yes, that is correct, and it is my understanding of the legislation as well.

Mr. FEINGOLD. I thank the Senator. As the Senator knows, to be considered ``newly eligible'' under this bill, individuals must not be eligible under the State plan or under a waiver of the plan for full benefits or for benchmark coverage as described in section 1937 of the Social Security Act. Two of the benefits that must be incorporated into benchmark coverage under section 1937 of the Social Security Act are mental health and substance use disorder services, and prescription drug coverage. If these two benefits are not offered at all, then the coverage will not count as benchmark coverage.

Mr. KOHL. As my two colleagues are aware, Wisconsin currently provides coverage for a number of individuals under a Medicaid waiver, but this coverage does not meet the requirements for benchmark or benchmark-equivalent coverage under the Social Security Act. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Federal agency that oversees Medicaid, has confirmed this for us. Senator Feingold and I understand that, because of this, the individuals in Wisconsin who do not receive benchmark or benchmark-equivalent coverage will be considered newly eligible, and therefore Wisconsin will receive 100 percent Federal funds for those individuals in 2014, 2015, and 2016. Is this the Senator's understanding of the legislation as well?

Mr. BAUCUS. Yes. I thank the Senator.

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