A bipartisan coalition led by Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Jeff Bingaman (D- NM) and Representative Heather Wilson (R-NM) and Donna Christensen have introduced legislation (S 338 & HR 985) to create a bipartisan commission on the future of the Medicaid program. This bill calls for the design of a commission of experts who will evaluate Medicaid and recommend efficiencies before funding cuts or changes to the program are made. In NAMI’s view, it is critically important for policymakers at both the state and federal level to make needed improvements and maintain Medicaid’s role as a critical safety net for the most vulnerable citizens. A Commission will help ensure that efforts to restrain the growth of the program are driven by agreed upon policy objectives, rather than arbitrary assumptions regarding budget cuts.
Specifically, the bill calls for the creation of a panel of 23 appointed experts who will promote methods of Medicaid improvement via public meetings. This bill comes on the heels of President Bush’s proposal to decrease Medicaid funds by approximately $60 billion across the next ten years, through a number of methods, including reduced reimbursements for prescription drugs. NAMI is supporting this legislation as a means of ensuring efforts to reform Medicaid be based on sound policy grounds, rather than simply to cut the program by an arbitrary amount.
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For additional background information on the importance of the Medicaid program for publicly funded mental illness treatment services, click here.