Monday, February 28, 2011
Democratic and Republican governors, burdened by crushing budget pressures from Medicaid, said Sunday that federal officials should allow them more freedom to change eligibility rules and other aspects of the public health insurance program for the poor. But they displayed sharp ideological differences over how far such flexibility should go.
After a series of private conversations at the National Governors Association's semiannual meeting over the weekend, leaders of the group formed a bipartisan committee to explore in detail what kind of flexibility over Medicaid the governors can agree to seek from federal health officials.
It remains unclear whether they will be able to forge such common ground, given their partisan disagreements over both Medicaid and the new federal law to reshape the health-care system. "The closer governors get to Washington, the more they start acting like members of Congress," said Oregon Gov. John A. Kitzhaber (D), vice chairman of the NGA's Health and Human Services Committee, referring to the rancorous debate over health care that persists on Capitol Hill.