Federal Healthcare Overhaul - August 2003

Denver Women's Commission
Federal Healthcare Overhaul - August 2003

August 8, 2003
Prepared by Chaer Robert
for Zenith Magazine

Federal Healthcare Overhaul

President Bush has proposals that dramatically change the federal role in health care:

Medicaid -- He has proposed a block grant program for Medicaid, which covers some low-income seniors, families and people with disabilities. In Colorado, a qualifying family must have less than $2500 in assets, including the value of their car. They must have an income under 36% of the federal poverty level- for example, under $5500/yr for a family of three.

President would like to offer states an increased amount of Medicaid money now then decrease the allotment in later years. The proposal must be revenue neutral over 10 years. States could be lured to opt into the new program by the extra money and lessened requirements. But advocates fear it could dramatically reduce health care services in the out years, particularly if more people fall into poverty.

Medicare -- The President would like to see more seniors in managed care plans. He initially proposed prescription drug coverage only for those who signed up for managed care, but backed off. Congress is expected to pass partial prescription drug coverage for seniors. The program would become effective in 2006. Meanwhile recipients could buy a drug discount card, with fees waived for low income seniors.

HIFA Waivers

With a waiver from President Bush's Health Insurance Flexibility and Accountability Initiative, states can increase the number of people eligible for Medicaid and the Child Health Plan. However such proposals must be "budget neutral", meaning practical terms, states can choose to cover more people by reducing services. They could not, however, reduce services for certain Medicaid clients, whose full coverage is guaranteed by federal law.

This article is based on materials from Colorado Covering Kids and Families. For further information contact Tiffany Buckman, Outreach Coordinator 303.861.5165 or www.cchn.org