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  • Washington Highlights

    House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Holds Medicaid Hearing

    Jason Kleinman, Senior Legislative Analyst, Govt. Relations

    In conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Medicaid, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee held a July 8 hearing to discuss ways to strengthen and sustain the program.

    In his opening statement, Health Subcommittee Chair Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) praised Medicaid for being “a critical lifeline for some of our nation’s most vulnerable patients” but cautioned “the current trajectory of Medicaid spending is problematic.” Citing data from a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report, he warned the subcommittee that without congressional intervention, the entire federal budget will be comprised of spending on mandatory entitlements and service on the debt by 2030.

    Subcommittee Ranking Member Gene Green (D-Texas) applauded Medicaid for being a “lifeline for millions of children, pregnant women, people with disabilities, seniors, and low-income adults” and urged his colleagues to support the Stabilize Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Coverage Act (H.R. 700), which would eliminate churning by requiring states to provide 12-month continuous Medicaid coverage to eligible individuals. 

    In her testimony, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services Director Vikki Wachino highlighted two recent studies that show that 95 percent of adults who had continuous Medicaid coverage in 2014 had a regular source of care and that children enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP had higher cumulative wages as adults than their peers. She also outlined several ways that CMS is working with states to strengthen Medicaid, including modernizing the eligibility and enrollment process for Medicaid and CHIP and strengthening payment and delivery systems reform to encourage coordinated, high quality, patient-centered care.

    Government Accountability Office (GAO) Health Care Director Carolyn Yocom provided the subcommittee with a summary of GAO’s July 8 report, which identified four key issues facing the Medicaid program: access to care, transparency and oversight, program integrity, and federal financing.

    Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) Executive Director Anne Schwartz, Ph.D., provided an overview of the commission’s agenda for the upcoming year, which includes: Medicaid’s role for people with behavioral health issues, the impact of value-based purchasing initiatives, measuring access and barriers to care, analyzing policy options to restructure Medicaid financing, and recommending policies to cover low and moderate-income children before CHIP funding expires in 2017.