Governor Barbour testifies before U.S. House Energy and Commerce CommitteeBy Teresa Collier | Published 02 Mar 2011 12:17pm |
Governor Haley Barbour was in Washington calling on the federal government to rethink its plans for Medicaid. Elizabeth Wynne Johnson explains.
Barbour says the health care law’s plans to expand Medicaid will cost Mississippi too much money. He wants to turn the federal –state health plan for the poor into a block grant program. That would allow Barbour and other governors greater leeway.
BARBOUR: “I can’t imagine Mississippi opting out of Medicaid. We’re a poor state, it’s an important program. We just want to run it better… We can control the cost much, much better if the federal government gave us more flexibility.”
Some states might use that flexibility to reduce benefits and exclude all but the most destitute from coverage. Barbour also told the House Energy and Commerce Committee that a federal requirement of a standard benefits package would prompt Mississippi businesses to drop their workers’ health care coverage.
BARBOUR: “That’s why our employers will drop coverage, because their premiums will skyrocket.” 1:48 (No.4)
Democrats on the panel defended the new health care law. Congresswoman and former nurse Lois Capps of California, cited Mississippi’s poor record on infant mortality. She asked Barbour if Medicaid could help change that.
BARBOUR: “A little bit….In my state we have an extremely high rate of illegitimacy…we have a lot of children being born to mothers who themselves are in bad health, maybe because of life choices…like drugs or alcohol.” 2.20 (No. 5)
President Obama has rejected Barbour’s Medicaid plan. One White House concession – states will be able to opt out of certain key requirements of the health reform law a few years earlier. But they must find other ways to accomplish the law’s goals.
From Capitol News Connection , I’m Elizabeth Wynne Johnson M-P-B News.
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