Senators Burr, Coburn Introduce Bill to Reform and Strengthen Medicaid

May 19, 2011

Today, U.S. Senators Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), and Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia) introduced the Medicaid Improvement and State Empowerment Act, a bill that will reform the Medicaid program to improve care for patients and empower states with the flexibility and financial predictability that they need to strengthen their programs.

"This bill is an important first step in reforming our nation's health care system and fixing our broken entitlement programs," Senator Burr said. "States have a proven track record of being able to adopt innovative solutions to improve patient care. By giving them more control over their own Medicaid programs, we are allowing states to innovate and better meet their needs and, most importantly, the health care needs of their patients."

"If entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are not reformed they won't be able to provide promised benefits.It is that simple.Seniors and low-income Americans need Washington to produce solutions, not attack ads.Our broken Medicaid program shows that access to a government health care program does not guarantee access to health care.Our bill will help fix a program that denies patients' access to 40 percent of doctors," Dr. Coburn said.

"The path to fiscal sustainability begins with the reform of our nation's entitlement programs," said Senator Chambliss. "The Medicaid Improvement and State Empowerment Act will give states such as Georgia the flexibility to design programs specifically tailored to support our most vulnerable beneficiaries and allow them the control to effectively plan for future budgets decisions."

Currently, Medicaid, a program rife with issues of waste and abuse, promises coverage to patients, but this promise does not result in access - 40% of physicians deny access to patients in this program. Additionally, states do not have the needed flexibility to make basic improvements to their programs, and are often forced to make drastic cuts to provider reimbursements, which further limit patients' access to care.

The Medicaid Improvement and State Empowerment Act frees states from bureaucratic red tape and empowers them to immediately make reforms that will improve care for patients. It repeals the new health care law and the maintenance of effort requirement contained in the stimulus, and transitions from the current FMAP model to a health grants model that provides medical assistance for low-income Americans and long-term care services and supports for low-income elderly and disabled individuals. The bill maintains the current FMAP model for acute care for dual eligible and disabled individuals; however, states are given the flexibility to enroll these patients into managed care.