Medicaid commission looks to trim program costs

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

WASHINGTON -- Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt in July announced the appointments of 28 people who will help craft reforms to curb growth of the Medicaid program.
Former Republican Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist will chair the commission, and former Independent Maine Gov. Angus King will serve as vice chair.
Of the 28 members, only 13 will serve as voting members. They include federal government representatives, state Medicaid officials, and officials from various advocacy and research groups.
The 15 non-voting members will serve in an advisory role. Additional non-voting members will include representatives from Congress and two governors. However, the National Governor's Association said they would decline the invitation to join the panel. Congressional Democrats have also said they will not participate in the commission, saying that a nonvoting advisory role is insufficient.
The committee's initial task is to suggest ways for the program to save $10 billion during the next five years by Sept. 1.
The committee's second report, expected by Dec. 31, 2006, will focus on long-term fixes for the program, specifically on "how to expand coverage to more Americans while still being fiscally responsible; ways to provide long-term care to those who need it; a review of eligibility, benefits design and delivery; and improved quality of care, choice and beneficiary satisfaction," Leavitt said in a release.