Task Force on Medicaid Launched By House Energy & Commerce Committee Republicans
November 18, 2015 12:31 PM
House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton recently announced the establishment of a Medicaid Task Force consisting of Republican members with the stated goal of examining and developing changes to the Medicaid program. While the Task Force has not yet announced or endorsed specific legislative proposals, the Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health has considered several Medicaid proposals as of late which might provide some indication of the proposals under consideration by the Task Force.
Most recently, the Subcommittee approved several Medicaid-related bills (see previous NAHC Report article here), including one requiring states to use electronic visit verification (EVV) for Medicaid personal care services (H.R. 2446). The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) this week met with the majority staff of the Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health, including staff representing Congressman Brett Guthrie (R-KY) who is the Chairman of the Medicaid Task Force and the sponsor of H.R. 2446, to discuss potential improvements to the legislation. NAHC favors program integrity, but expressed concerns about the legislation’s current approach as it may affect provider costs and multi-state organizations. NAHC is working with the Committee to provide recommendations to improve the draft legislation as well as information of interest to the Committee about the use of EVV among personal care providers.
In addition, Chairman Upton favors a Medicaid “per capita cap” limiting Medicaid funding per beneficiary. In its 2015 Legislative Blueprint for Action, NAHC opposed per capita caps. “Proposals for per beneficiary caps or full program federal spending caps such as block grants should be rejected by Congress,” NAHC stated. “Many states have begun efforts to expand home and community-based alternatives to institutionalization in their Medicaid programs. The federal government, through such programs as the New Freedom Initiative, has sought to facilitate this development. Medicaid is one of the biggest items in state budgets, so it will certainly be a focus of state efforts to save money. States are required to balance their budgets, so federal assistance is essential to preserve and expand home and community-based care within the Medicaid program.”
A recent analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities similarly stated that “a per capita cap would shift large costs to states and almost certainly lead over time to substantial cuts affecting low-income beneficiaries and health care providers. It also would likely discourage states from taking up health reform’s Medicaid expansion and could cause some states to abandon the expansion.”
Democrats serving on the Energy & Commerce Committee have expressed criticism of the Task Force based on the fact that only Republicans have been invited to participate. “If this is a serious and productive effort, then members from both sides of the aisle should have been included,” a spokeswoman for the Committee Democrats recently stated. “This is nothing more than another attempt by Republicans to undermine and dismantle the Medicaid program, which 72 million Americans currently depend on for health care.”
Following are the members serving on the Medicaid Task Force:
Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) (Chairman)
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN)
Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN)
Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX)
Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY)
Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX)
Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK)
NAHC Reportwill continue to provide updates regarding future legislative efforts on Medicaid relevant to the home care and hospice community.