NASW is encouraging social workers to contact their representatives in Congress to support a bill that would put a one-year moratorium on new federal Medicaid reductions currently being implemented by the states.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued seven Medicaid regulations that will significantly cut Medicaid payments for social work and other services to vulnerable Medicaid clients, said James Finley, senior government relations associate at NASW. Since the cutbacks will affect state Medicaid budgets differently, Finley said, members should contact their NASW chapters to learn how the new rules could affect their services.
In the meantime, Reps. John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Timothy Murphy (R-Pa.) introduced Protecting the Medicaid Safety Net Act of 2008 (H.R. 5613) on March 13 to delay until April 9, 2009, implementation of the seven cost-cutting Medicaid regulations. At press time, similar legislation was expected to be introduced in the U.S. Senate.
The seven rules reduce Medicaid recipients' access to rehabilitative services, targeted case management, school-based transportation and outreach services and hospital clinic services. Finley noted the regulations have drawn strong criticism from social workers across the U.S. as well as a range of stakeholders, including organizations that represent people with disabilities, children and families, hospitals, educators, providers and state Medicaid directors.
NASW is encouraging members to contact their representatives in Washington and ask them to support H.R. 5613. Members can learn more about the issue at https://ssl.capwiz.com/socialworkers/issues/.
In an earlier development related to the new regulations, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), a social worker, in February introduced an amendment to the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (S. 1200) that called for a delay in the implementation of the new Medicaid case management rules until April 2009.
"This bipartisan amendment stands up for thousands and thousands of people all over the United States of America who are about to lose their social workers or their nurses because of a new, harsh, punitive rule put out by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare," Mikulski said on the Senate floor.
"This is not about how we can control runaway Medicaid costs," she continued. "It is [about] how do we make sure the American people get the services they need to be able to lead independent lives. I believe we give help to those that are practicing self-help. Those families that are out there struggling need a government that is on their side."
The Senate passed S. 1200 with Mikulski's amendment in March. At press time, however, the House had not acted on the Indian health legislation.