January 31,2003

Baucus Response to President’s Medicaid Reform Proposal

I agree with the President that Congress should step in to assist States as they face their worst budget deficits in 50 years. Dire fiscal conditions are leading states toward drastic cuts to their Medicaid programs. These cuts affect the lives of children, pregnant women, the elderly and disabled in a very significant way. But I do not believe that the answer to the States’ problem is legislation to undermine the Medicaid program in the name of “reform,” “state fiscal relief,” or “state flexibility.”

I would rather assist States by giving them additional resources to help avoid painful cuts to their Medicaid programs, instead of forcing States to slash Medicaid eligibility or benefits. I included $75 billion in state assistance in my economic stimulus package, and I support an increase in the Medicaid matching rate (FMAP). I would also like to consider longer term improvements to Medicaid that would stabilize the program for state budgets, improve its fiscal integrity, and improve its capacity to serve our most vulnerable populations.

I am troubled by the Administration’s proposal to fundamentally change the nature of the Medicaid program, and I am particularly concerned about the impact it may have on the millions of vulnerable Americans who rely on it for their health insurance coverage. I doubt that I will be able to support a proposal like it.