KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Governors Worry About Major Medicaid Expansion

The GOP fears the burden of a health care overhaul on states, Roll Call reports: "Senate Republicans joined with GOP governors on Thursday and harshly criticized Finance Chairman Max Baucus' (D-Mont.) health care plan, charging the bill would expand Medicaid while forcing a massive unfunded mandate on cash-strapped states. Republicans have criticized the bill for using the Medicaid system, which is partially funded by states and partially by the federal government, as a way to ensure greater health care coverage for Americans" (Stanton, 9/17). 

Kaiser Health News: "When it comes to making changes in the nation's health care system, states will need "time and flexibility," according to Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, the Republican head of the National Governors Association. He has been conferring with federal officials on possible reforms. In the context of the current health system overhaul, he said, governors are most concerned with the prospect of a major expansion of Medicaid, which would pose a 'tremendous financial liability' to states" (Schiff, 9/17).

The Associated Press quoted several governors: "'If the federal government wants to expand health care to everybody in the country, they should not force the states to pay part of the bill. If they want to do that, the federal government should pay for it," said Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who is chairman of the Republican Governors Association."

"Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, said in July that he worried the federal government's push to expand Medicaid might force states to borrow money to pay for new health expenses. Since then, Schweitzer said he has spoken to President Barack Obama and Democratic congressional leaders and has been assured that the final version of health care legislation won't include unfunded mandates for the states. 'I think everybody has looked at each other and said, 'That dog don't hunt,' Schweitzer said in late August" (Pettus, 9/16). 

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