Constituent Services
Higgins Urges Halt of Rules that Would Hurt Children, Local Hospitals & Future Physicians
November 2, 2007
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) participated in a House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on proposed rules on Medicaid; many of which would have a drastic impact on children and hospitals in WNY.
“We should be making access to health care easier for Americans not more difficult,” said Congressman Higgins, a member of the Oversight & Government Reform Committee.  “These proposed rules would allow our most vulnerable populations, including children, seniors and those with disabilities, to fall through the cracks.”
Congressman Higgins and other participants in the hearing examined a range of regulatory changes regarding the Medicaid program that have recently been made by the Department of Health and Human Services. If all of these regulations were implemented, federal Medicaid funds to states would be cut by over $11 billion over five years.
What some of the Administration’s proposed rules would do:
• Make it difficult for at-risk kids to get back on the right track:  this rule would eliminate Medicaid coverage of foster care for at-risk children and young adults with a history of emotional instability.  This type of foster care keeps these kids from being incarcerated or hospitalized by placing them in a positive and encouraging living environment.
• Eliminate federal assistance to school districts that transport severely mentally and physically disabled children: this rule would eliminate Medicaid coverage of transportation for children who, through consultation with parents and school officials, has been deemed to require special transportation needs for their safety and for the safety of others.
• End coverage of some hospital services for the needy: this rule would eliminate Medicaid coverage for routine physician services, vision exams, annual checkups, vaccinations, school-based health center services, and rehabilitation services that benefit thousands of children, disabled, and elderly in Western New York alone.  These vulnerable populations often do not have ready access to medical services, and rely on hospitals for basic care.  This rule would make it extremely difficult for hospitals to pay for their necessary task of being the ultimate health safety net for the needy and vulnerable.
• Drastically limit training opportunities for budding physicians: this rule would eliminate the federal government role in giving on-the-job training to budding physicians through Medicaid.  This rule would cause considerable financial strain on teaching hospitals like Buffalo General and ECMC who together receive close to $100 million in graduate medical education funding annually.
 “Pulling the plug on funding that supports training for the next generation of health care professionals would be devastating for local hospitals, aspiring doctors and the future of health care in America,” added Higgins.  
 Congressman Higgins has long understood the positive impact hospitals have in providing a health care safety net to the needy.  He is a proud cosponsor of H.R. 3533, the Public and Teaching Hospital Preservation Act, which would extend the moratorium of the implementation of several of these rules.
 "The Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services should focus its energies on finding creative ways to improve the quality of care for beneficiaries, reduce the cost of prescription drugs, solve the oncoming healthcare professional crisis, and ensure reimbursement systems are functional and fair.  It is disappointing that instead of creating real solutions to our healthcare crisis, CMS continues to find ways to hurt our neediest populations and those who support them." said Rep. Higgins.

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