Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Governors Say Their Deal May Help Solve Budget Rift

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Governors Say Their Deal May Help Solve Budget Rift

Article excerpt

The nation's governors reached agreement Monday to squeeze savings from the Medicaid health care program for the poor, a step they hope will break the budget deadlock between the White House and Congress.

Gov. Tommy Thompson, R-Wis., chairman of the National Governors' Association, said the governors at their winter meeting also were nearing a consensus on a recommendation to President Bill Clinton on how to overhaul welfare.

Clinton has looked to the governors to help him reach an agreement with the Republican-led Congress on a plan to balance the budget over the next seven years and end an impasse that has caused two partial shutdowns.

The Medicaid compromise, endorsed unanimously by 26 governors Monday, will be put to a formal vote at a meeting of all governors today. Thompson predicted that it would be approved by the three-fourths majority needed for such action.

Medicaid finances health care for 37 million poor people, including many children and many residents of nursing homes. Governors have a huge interest.

Gov. Roy Romer, D-Colo., said the agreement would guarantee coverage for the most needy, including pregnant women and children, the elderly and the disabled. Clinton has demanded such a provision.

A summary of the proposal says Medicaid recipients would be assured of coverage for hospital services, doctors' services, nursing home care, family planning services and supplies, laboratory services and X-rays. But states would have "complete flexibility in defining the amount, duration and scope of services."

It adds that:

States would have to provide Medicaid for pregnant women with family incomes up to 33 percent above the official poverty level; for children under 6 in families with incomes up to 33 percent above the poverty line, and for children 6 to 12 in families below the poverty level ($11,821 for a family of three in 1994).

States would have to provide Medicaid for disabled people.

Welfare recipients would generally be entitled to Medicaid, as they are under current law. …

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