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Hatch on Medicaid Reform: “A Health Care Gulag”

by Benjamin Domenech on June 17, 2011

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the current ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, spoke this week at the Heritage Foundation on his latest proposal to reform Medicaid by rolling back federal maintenance of effort requirements — a bill which would in his words be a first step of many:

“The bottom line is that those who are the biggest advocates for Medicaid, and most criticize conservatives for seeking to reform the program, are happy to consign America’s poorest and sickest patients to a health care gulag… Medicaid was intended to be a safety net program for the poor. But is has turned into substitute health insurance for nearly one-quarter of the population.”

Hatch’s comments come the same week that Republican governors sent a letter requesting that the federal government relax these requirements, “so that states are once again granted the flexibility to control their program costs.”

Hatch’s proposal is a relatively modest one, so we at The Heartland Institute asked at the close of the event if he would consider supporting broader reforms, particularly those focused on improving care for the population Medicaid is designed to serve. He confirmed that he’d look at other legislation as well beyond his limited fix. A full video of Hatch’s remarks is here.

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