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Apr-18-2008 21:13printcomments

Walden and Hooley Act to Protect Oregon Against Medicaid Cuts

Governor calls on Congress to protect Oregon's most vulnerable.


Darlene Hooley and Greg Walden

(SILVERTON, Ore.) - In the face of opposition by the President, Oregon Congressman Greg Walden and Congresswoman Darlene Hooley joined colleagues on the House Energy and Commerce Committee in reaching unanimous, bi-partisan agreement on a measure that would halt harmful new Medicaid rules recently issued by the Bush Administration. Hooley is a co-sponsor of the bill.

The measure, H.R. 5613, would impose moratoria on a host of regulations that would substantially cut federal support to Oregon's health care safety net and shift large costs to Oregon. If implemented, the regulations would reduce federal Medicaid funds to Oregon by $163 million in federal fiscal year 2009 and by $865 million over five years.

"These changes in federal regulations will greatly undermine our efforts to take care of our children and people with disabilities. I hope Congress is successful in maintaining the present partnership we have with the federal government in caring for our most vulnerable citizens," said Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski.

Unless Congress acts to stop them, the rules will disrupt Oregon services to children in schools, rehabilitation and case management services for children in foster care, and services for people with physical disabilities and mental illnesses. The regulations would also eliminate federal funding for care provided by medical students in hospitals that serve the most vulnerable.

Bi-partisan support for the measure to stop implementation of the rules enhances prospects that the measure can survive a Presidential veto, which the White House has threatened.

"The united action by Mr. Walden, Ms. Hooley, and others in Congress this week is enormously encouraging," said Janet Bauer, policy analyst with the Oregon Center for Public Policy.

"We now hope Oregon Senators Wyden and Smith will protect Oregon by taking the lead in the Senate to halt all the regulations outlined in the House bill," she added.

The bill, which has been co-sponsored by Oregon Congressman David Wu in addition to Congresswoman Hooley, is expected to be considered on the House floor later this month. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden has co-sponsored a similar Senate bill, S. 2819.

The Senate Finance Committee, on which Wyden and Oregon Senator Gordon Smith sit, has not scheduled action on that measure. It is unclear whether S. 2819 will be considered by the Committee.

For further information on the impact of the Medicaid rules on Oregon, see New Medicaid Regulations Will Reduce Federal Health Care Dollars to Oregon.

Source: The Oregon Center for Public Policy, a non-partisan research institute that does in-depth research and analysis on budget, tax, and economic issues. The Center's goal is to improve decision making and generate more opportunities for all Oregonians.




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