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Top Democrats Oppose Any Medicaid Cuts in 'Fiscal Cliff' Negotiations

Top Democrats Oppose Any Medicaid Cuts in 'Fiscal Cliff' Negotiations

December 12, 2012 — Democratic leaders are becoming increasingly insistent that the White House keep Medicaid "off the table" in talks to avoid the mandated spending cuts and tax increases known as the "fiscal cliff," The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 12/11).

During a news conference on Tuesday, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) criticized proposals to turn Medicaid into a block-grant system or a per-capita grant system.

"Both of these ideas are bad ideas because they limit the federal government's participation in making sure Medicaid will cover those who are most vulnerable," Waxman said.

Waxman and other senior Democrats also objected to a separate Republican proposal to eliminate a temporary increase in Medicaid provider payments created under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) in order to partially offset the cost of delaying scheduled cuts to Medicare provider reimbursement rates (Daly, Modern Healthcare, 12/11).

Waxman said, "We don't believe in cutting Medicare ... but, whatever they talk about in Medicare, maybe there's some things we can live with." He added, "But we cannot live with any cut to Medicaid" ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 12/11).

Obama Administration's Position on Medicaid

The calls to avoid Medicaid cuts come after the Obama administration on Monday announced that it would no longer support a "blended rate" plan, which would have generated about $100 billion in federal savings by creating one payment formula for Medicaid, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 12/10).

Meanwhile, Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) this week exchanged new offers to avoid the fiscal cliff, but the offers have brought them no closer to an agreement, according to the Washington Post (Montgomery/Kane, Washington Post, 12/11).