A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

More Backlash from the Clawback

More Backlash from the Clawback

July 9, 2005

More on the new Medicare Drug Law. FamiliesUSA has a new report showing how a number of states are eliminating eligibility for senior citizens to get Medicaid coverage in addition to Medicare (the so-called "dual eligibles.") Federal law requires states to enroll all seniors below 73% of the federal poverty line, though 21 states -- including Massachusetts -- go as high as 100%fpl. Three states have already cut back: Florida (77,000 seniors), Mississippi (65,000) , and Missouri (8660), and North Carolina is planning to do so.

Now the disagreement. FamiliesUSA says states are doing this so they will owe the federal government less money once the dreaded Medicare Prescription Drug Law "clawback" takes effect in January 2006 (under this, states will have to write a fat check to the federal government to pay for 90% of drug costs for seniors assumed by feds). An anonymous US Senate Finance Committee aide disagreed, and said states would be cutting back any way without the new drug benefit.

The timing is way too suspicious here. Families has the more convincing argument . Chalk another one up for the law of unintended consequences.