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The nation’s governors are pushing back on Congressional efforts for health-care reform that would potentially expand Medicaid, the program that provides subsidies to low-income persons and people with disabilities who are unable to work. States are concerned about the daunting prospect of having to pay for coverage to millions of low-income residents, especially in a time of recession. According to The Washington Post, the legislation the Senate Finance Committee is expected to approve this week calls for the biggest expansion of Medicaid since its creation in 1965. Under the Senate bill and a similar House proposal, a patchwork state-federal insurance program targeted mainly at children, pregnant women and disabled people would effectively become a Medicare for the poor, a health-care safety net for all people with an annual income below $14,404. In recent days, House Democrats have debated whether to trim Medicaid funding in their bill to make room for other priorities. Among ... keep reading »
Speaking before a crowd on Capitol Hill, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said expanding federal benefits for people with disabilities is “a civil rights issue.” The senator, a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, is also the sponsor of the Community Choice Act, one of two proposals introduced this year that that would significantly expand federal assistance for people in need of long-term care. Harkin and other advocates of the measures are folding their efforts into President Obama’s push for health-care reform. At issue is the government-funded Medicaid program, which serve the disabled and elderly. The Community Choice Act would reform Medicaid to give recipients eligible for institutional-level care the choice of receiving in-home or community-based assistance rather than nursing home care. Currently, individuals seeking in-home care must apply through a waiver program — but there’s a long waiting line. HELP Chairman Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) has sponsored a ... keep reading »