October 07, 2005

Crapo Touts Health Care Savings For Medicaid

Senator has introduced legislation to allow volunteer personal account

Washington, DC â?? Idahoans who rely on Medicaid for health care will have another option under legislation introduced by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo. The Medicaid Health Opportunity Account Act takes the concept of health savings accounts and provides it to Medicaid recipients on a voluntary basis. Crapo introduced the bill in the U.S. Senate this week; it is a companion to H.R. 3757, which was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last month.The measure sets up a 5-year, 10-state demonstration program that will provide health care savings accounts for Medicaid-eligible individuals and families. The program will be voluntary and open to low-income families and children as well as low-income individuals who are not disabled or elderly. The accounts will be funded using federal and state contributions and will not exceed $2500 individual and $1000 child yearly. The funds can be used for medical care services that include diagnosis, treatment, and prevention as well as transportation costs for such services. They can also be used for long-term care services and insurance purchase. Florida and South Carolina have already drafted waiver proposals to allow a similar plan. The legislation introduced in Congress would give states the ability to bypass the red tape of the waiver process. If approved, states would apply to be part of the pilot program; the Department of Health and Human Services would select the participating states.â??This concept will benefit low-income Medicaid eligible families by allowing them to make their own health care decisions and giving them more flexibility in those choices,â?? Crapo said. â??Too often Medicaid forces patients to use services at a higher cost and it does not allow the patient to be a discerning medical consumer. Patients are frequently limited in their choice of services and providers. By using the health savings account model, those who are eligible will have the same opportunities to choose their medical care. At a time when we are all watching federal spending, this is a good effort to improve health care options and save money for those who are eligible for Medicaid.â??