Election Section

Chief says feds might not pay more for Medicaid

Tuesday July 16, 2002

BOISE, Idaho — A top federal health official told the nation’s governors Monday not to count on support for one of their key priorities — getting Washington to pick up a greater share of the costs of providing health care to the poor. 

“We can’t always give you more money. I know that’s frustrating,” Medicare Administrator Tom Scully said at a meeting of the National Governors Association. “But we are trying to help you ... make the money you have go as far as you can.” 

Scully delivered the bad news as some 30 governors gathered in Boise in search of ways to cut costs and increase revenue to close budget deficits. 

They had hoped to get some immediate help from the Bush administration through legislation that would increase the amount the federal government contributes to Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for the poor. 

A measure in the Senate would provide an additional $4.5 billion in Medicaid money over the next 18 months and a block grant of $4.4 billion that states could use for health care or social services. 

Governors consider the measure vital, noting that Medicaid spending increased 13 percent in the last fiscal year and now constitutes 20 percent of state budgets.