Statement of Senator Max Baucus and Representative John D. Dingell
On the Administration’s Announcement of a Medicaid Commission
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) Today, Senator Max Baucus, Ranking Member of the Senate FinanceCommittee, and Representative John D. Dingell, Ranking Member of the House Energy andCommerce Committee issued the following statement regarding the recent announcement of aMedicaid Commission established by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Michael O.Leavitt. The statement follows:
“Medicaid plays a vital role in the lives of millions of beneficiaries. And most agree thatthe gravity of the challenges faced by the program call for thoughtful, creative and levelheadedsolutions. The proposed Smith-Bingaman Commission set forth an impartial, unbiased process todevelop policy recommendations aimed at sustaining and improving the program for the future.And as such, this commission focused on long-term reforms rather than policy driven byarbitrary budget numbers.
“Unfortunately, the Medicaid Commission proposed by the administration falls short ofthe unbiased, independent advisory panel proposed by Senators Smith and Bingaman. It alsofails to meet any of the criteria laid out in a letter we sent to Department of Health and HumanServices Secretary Michael Leavitt, other than what is already required by law. Instead, votingmembers of the administration’s commission will be appointed solely by Secretary Leavitt.Although Members of Congress are given the opportunity to nominate eight members toparticipate in the commission’s proceedings, those members will serve as non-voting members.And regrettably, the primary initial charge of the administration’s commission is to engage in abudget-driven, rather than policy-driven, exercise to produce $10 billion in ‘scorable’ Medicaidcuts.
“Given the Leavitt Medicaid Commission's lack of independence and artificially shortdeadline, it is difficult to see how this commission would make a significant contribution to thedebate on Medicaid. Rather, its role and contribution would likely be to reiterate theadministration’s current position on Medicaid reform and spending cuts, which we do not believerepresents a consensus view.
“After careful consideration, we have decided not to exercise the opportunity to appoint aMember of Congress to participate as a non-voting member of the Leavitt Commission. Rather,we look forward to working with our colleagues to craft credible, responsible Medicaid policythrough upcoming hearings and deliberations in the Senate Committee on Finance, the HouseCommittee on Energy and Commerce, and in Congress.”
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