Price Promises States Medicaid Flexibility
by Brianna Ehley Politico March 10, 2017
HHS Secretary Tom Price is vowing to use the department’s regulatory authority to give states more flexibility to manage their Medicaid programs amid concerns from Republican governors over the House's Obamacare replacement plan.
The GOP plan phases out Medicaid expansion starting in 2020 and shifts Medicaid from an open-ended entitlement to capped payments based on the number of enrollees in each state. Republican governors had asked Congress to provide them with additional flexibility to deal with the new funding constraints, but the bill didn’t appear to satisfy those requests. “I would have liked to have seen more flexibility being given to the states," said Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
Price, speaking to those concerns, on Friday said that HHS "will be committed to doing everything within our authority to provide our nation’s governors and state legislatures with greater flexibility on how they utilize Medicaid resources in caring for those in need.” He added that he will review existing waiver procedures to allow states the “freedom to innovate and test new ideas to improve access to care and health outcomes.”
Other Republican governors, meanwhile, expressed concerns the bill would result in major coverage losses. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, in a New York Times op-ed on Friday said, "Congress should listen to governors who have already done the work necessary to make our Medicaid programs more sustainable while preserving coverage for those who need it most.” Nevada’s Brian Sandoval told The Associated Press the House bill “doesn't include anything that the governors have talked about."