April 2004 E-Newsletter

Welcome to the MLG E-Newsletter. We hope this brief update will keep you aware of important developments in Medicaid and Medicare policy. Each edition will feature Illinois MLG activities, federal and state legislative initiatives and featured topics from our readers. Contact Courtney Snyder to offer suggestions for topical material or for more information at 312-223-9600, or via email csnyder@hdadvocates.org.

MLG Board of Executives
The Honorable Larry Suffredin Cook County Commissioner 
Ralph Martire Center for Tax and Budget Accountability
Scott Allen American Academy of Pediatrics 
Phil Milsk  The ARC
John Bouman National Center on Poverty Law 
Michael O’Donnell Illinois Association of Area Agencies on Aging
Pat Comstock Illinois Health Care Association  
Barbara Otto Health & Disability Advocates (HDA)
Rick Hamilton Illinois Hospital Association 
Charles Sauer National Pharmacists Association
Gordana Krkic Illinois Academy of Family Physicians 
Dan Sprehe Pfizer, Inc.
Angela Lusk Service Employees International Union 
Courtney Snyder MLG Project Director - HDA

Federal Update
Much of the action in the congressional budget debate has centered on so-called "pay-as-you-go" rules. These rules, which originated with the Budget Enforcement Act of the 1990s, require that any proposals to increase federal spending or to reduce federal revenues be offset by spending cuts or tax increases. The budget resolution passed by the House of Representatives adopts this approach. This resolution would impose spending caps on discretionary programs and would subject entitlements like Medicare and Medicaid to pay-as-you-go rules, but tax cuts would not have to be offset. For example, a move to extend the President’s tax cuts would not be subject to these rules, while spending on housing, education, and the environment – not to mention increased spending for Medicare and Medicaid – would.

The Senate rejected the House’s approach – its budget resolution subjects both spending increases and tax cuts to pay-as-you-go rules. On balance, this resolution is also better when it comes to cuts in the Medicaid program. While the Senate budget resolution does call for Medicaid cuts to the tune of $11 billion, these proposed cuts are essentially meaningless because they are not mandated. The House resolution includes a lower level of Medicaid cuts - $2.2 billion over five years – but because these cuts are mandated, they pose a much bigger threat.

The two budget resolution versions have gone to a House-Senate conference committee to forge a compromise. The conference committee will decide whether to strike the House’s mandated Medicaid cuts or move them forward. We expect these conference negotiations to last a month or even longer, although legislators hope to reach agreement and gain approval of both chambers by the end of April.      Source: Families USA


Upcoming Events
MLG Forum, May 10th , 2004 10:00 – 12:00 Topic: Hospital Assessment Program
MLG Medicaid Summit Fall 2004

Springfield Recap
The MLG held its 2nd Annual Springfield reception on March 30th at the Renaissance Hotel followed by a legislator briefing on March 31st at the Capitol. To receive materials from the March 31st briefing contact Courtney at csnyder@hdadvocates.org.

Where’s the Provider Tax?
Medicaid is a federal-state entitlement program for low-income Americans. Medicaid makes federal matching funds available to states for the costs they incur in paying health care providers for delivering covered services to eligible individuals.

In December, the legislature and the Governor approved the Illinois Hospital Assessment Program. The program would add $300 million to hospital Medicaid payments statewide and an additional $260 million for other Medicaid services in Illinois.

Currently, Medicaid covers about 80 percent of hospital costs in Illinois. With the final approval of the assessment program, Medicaid payments, on average, would improve to 92 percent of hospital costs. In addition, the assessment program will mean that Illinois, which serves 4.5 percent of the nation’s Medicaid population but gets back only 3.6 percent of total Medicaid funding, will receive a fairer share of federal dollars.

The Illinois Hospital Assessment Program still needs the approval of CMS (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services). The MLG Board of Executives has pledged to support the assessment program. The MLG is hosting a forum on May 10th from 10:00 a.m. till noon at MCHC, 222 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 1900, Chicago. Please join us and learn more about the assessment program and what you can do. For more information contact Courtney Snyder at csnyder@hdadvocates.org. or Rick Hamilton, Illinois Hospital Association at rhamilton@ihastaff.org.  Source: Illinois Hospital Association   

Next Issue: Spring Session Recap



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