The House Appropriations Committee approved a bipartisan measure Wednesday that would give states more power over how Medicaid recipients can access transportation in the event of an emergency.
The legislation, H.R. 1452, also would require the federal government to provide additional funding for transportation assistance.
The bill also would allow states to use existing federal funds to build and operate new facilities and provide other forms of transportation assistance to Medicaid recipients.
The proposal is one of a number of measures that House Republicans are working on as they prepare to take up the government shutdown and the budget they have set aside for the fiscal year.
Democrats say the measure is designed to put more money in states’ pockets.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) is one who’s not happy about the measure.
“It’s a very bad idea,” Harkin told Fox News.
“This is a bill that will allow states more latitude to operate their own hospitals and facilities, to spend their own money.
It’s not going to make it better for the American people.”
Republican lawmakers say they are concerned about the lack of funding for Medicaid in the bill, especially in states that already have an obligation to pay for the program.
“We’re very concerned about our people who are currently on Medicaid,” said Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), who sponsored the bill.
“I think the Senate version does not adequately address the issues that we have and are concerned with.”
Democrats countered that the Senate bill is just a template for the House bill.
“If the Senate had passed this legislation, we would be moving on to the House version right now,” said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D.M.).
“But the Senate did not pass this bill.
The Senate version was watered down, and it did not address our concerns.”
The House bill includes a provision that would allow a limited number of states to expand Medicaid eligibility to the most vulnerable population — seniors.
That would be an important step in helping the nation’s most vulnerable populations access care, including those with disabilities and those with chronic health conditions.
House Republicans plan to bring the legislation up for a vote next week.