Barbour to Congress: States need more Medicaid flexibility

WASHINGTON — States need more flexibility to design Medicaid programs that fit unique local needs, Gov. Haley Barbour today told the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The healthcare law will be too costly to states, enlarging Medicaid rolls and siphoning money from other needs, including public schools and law enforcement, Barbour said. In Mississippi, Medicaid is estimated to grow by almost 400,000 people, or two-thirds, when new eligibility standards take effect.

Barbour told the committee the Medicaid program should be funded with a block grant, and states should be free to implement innovative programs that meet specific needs.

“The states need the flexibility and authority to craft innovative programs to provide medical care to our neediest citizens,” Barbour testified. “But to do so, we need Congress to cut the red tape states must wade through to implement new programs and save money on what we already do. Through greater flexibility in the management of Medicaid, states might be able to reduce substantially the hidden tax increases that forced expansion of the program will impose. Our citizens should not have to wait years for agencies in Washington to green light new healthcare solutions. We need relief now.”

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