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Baby Steps: Congressional Action on Medicaid Reform
Owcharenko argues that while Congress is poised to make “modest administrative changes” to Medicaid in the name of budget balancing, what the program really needs is fundamental reform.
The budget proposals from the Senate Finance Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee are aimed at improving the efficiency of the administration of the Medicaid program and will lead to minor short-term savings. However, improved efficiency will not bring lasting stability to the program. To save Medicaid, federal and state policymakers must develop a multi-faceted approach to improving the Medicaid program for its beneficiaries and the future.
States should look for ways to mainstream more Medicaid-eligible individuals into private health care coverage and should adopt more care-management and consumer-directed techniques to improve quality and satisfaction for those who must remain on the program.
Federal policymakers should draw on the lessons of welfare reform and provide states with greater flexibility to experiment with different approaches to meet federal goals and benchmarks. They should also enact other key health policy initiatives, such as health care tax credits for lower-income Americans and incentives for the purchase of private long-term care, to preserve and protect Medicaid for those truly in need.
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