Another unsavory aspect of the Medicare Drug Benefit

Remember when Republicans used to fault Democrats for “unfunded mandates” that required states to pay for Federal legislation? Democrats have had the chance to blame Republicans for the same thing thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act.

But I hadn’t realized that the Medicare Modernization Act has a major unfunded mandate as well until I read about it in the New York Times (States Rejecting Demand To Pay for Medicare Cost.) Tums out that states are required to pay billions of dollars per year to the Treasury, supposedly to defray the cost of Medicare picking up the drug costs for “dual eligibles” — people who are eligible for Medicaid (because they’re poor) and for Medicare (because they’re old or disabled.)

Texas – -off all states- – is leading the revolt against the measure. Republican Governor Perry vetoed the $444 million appropriation that was meant to cover the state’s obligations for the next two years. In New Hampshire, the Republican-led Senate is refusing to allocate funds until a court rules the measure is constitutional.

I’ve been trying to think of how the new Supreme Court nominee might affect healthcare. Maybe there will be an impact in this case.

July 4, 2005

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