October 26,2000

Roth: Medicaid Upper Payment Limit Agreement Not Adequate

WASHINGTON -- Senate Finance Committee Chairman William V. Roth, Jr. (R-DE) today issued the following statement on the provisions related to Medicaid upper payment limits included in the House-Senate agreement on Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Benefits Improvement and Protection Act. This package will be included in the year end tax bill.

"I am disappointed with the provisions included in the package related to Medicaid upper payment limits. For months, I have been urging the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) to address this upper payment limit loophole that is draining tens of billions of dollars from taxpayers, and is endangering the financial integrity of the Medicaid program," Roth stated.

"I introduced the legislation that does what HCFA should have done. My bill fully closes down the loophole. It does not sanction abuse - it stops it and stops it quickly. My bill is based on what HCFA originally proposed to do in May, before politics caused them to water down their proposed regulation," Roth stated.

"I am disappointed that HCFA has retreated from its original intentions, and I will continue to push them to make their final regulation a real solution to the problem we face. My bill, and HCFA's original regulation, would give those states with upper payment limits approved by HCFA already in place, two years to fully transition into compliance with the law. The regulation HCFA finally issued in October does not end the abuse, it only caps the amount of money the states can draw down inappropriately.

"In order to at least begin to rein in the magnitude of the abuse going on in some of the states, the package before Congress requires HCFA to finalize its regulation before the end of this year. The package includes a special transition rule for states with upper payment programs implemented prior to 1992.

"I am disappointed in the provision in this package because it does not go far enough, and it makes too many special accommodations to those states that have abused the system. However, at least we are taking initial steps to contain the magnitude of the abuse, by doing so, we will save taxpayers approximately $80 billion over 10 years."