With Veto-Proof Majority, House Votes to Block New Medicaid Regulations Affecting Those With Special Needs

On April 23 the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill, HR 5613, that would put off implementation of several new Medicaid regulations affecting people with special needs until early 2009. The bill's passage is seen as a victory for advocates for people with special needs, and was passed by a veto-proof, bipartisan vote of 349-62. The Senate is working on its own version of the legislation, S 2819, which is currently before the Finance Committee.

The proposed Medicaid regulations being blocked by the bill would make it more difficult for people with special needs to obtain rehabilitation services, and would also cut funding for case managers and equal access special education programs. Specifically, the regulations redefine Medicaid's definition of rehabilitation, forcing a physician to prepare a detailed rehabilitation plan and follow complicated guidelines when prescribing services.

The new regulations would also cut back on federal funding for a variety of other programs, including non-rehabilitative teacher's aides and some types of personal care services. Since Medicaid is administered by both the state and federal governments, the loss of federal funds for these programs would place a greater financial burden on state budgets, which is a major reason why the regulations were opposed by the governors of all 50 states. The Bush administration blamed abusive state practices for Medicaid's financial cutbacks, and said that the bill would thwart efforts by the federal government to curb excessive discretionary spending.

For a Washington Times article on the bill's passage in the House, click here.

To read a previous article dealing with the proposed cuts in special needs case management and the Senate's response, click here. Article Last Modified: 07/21/2008