Former HHS Secretary Thompson says states will take lead on health care reform

Former HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, chair of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions and a partner at the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld, on Thursday told reporters that states likely will take the lead on health care reform in the absence of federal action, CQ HealthBeat reports.

According to Thompson, regardless of whether Democrats take control of Congress after the midterm elections, federal action on health care likely will not occur until 2008, when he expects the issue to play an important role in the presidential election.

He also said that at least 20 states likely will follow the lead of Massachusetts and pass laws to require residents to purchase health insurance.

In addition, Thompson said that he remains hopeful about the enactment of a federal health care information technology law.

The House and Senate have passed separate health care IT bills (HR 4157 and S 1418), but lawmakers have not named conferees to resolve differences in the legislation.

Thompson also promoted the "Medicaid Makeover" proposal that he introduced in August at the National Governors Association meeting (Hopkins, CQ HealthBeat, 10/26).

The proposal recommends that the responsibility for long-term care of elderly Medicaid beneficiaries shift from joint state and federal funding to the federal government and that states focus on acute care for Medicaid beneficiaries younger than age 65.

In addition, the proposal recommends that Medicaid begin to use electronic health records and other technologies to improve case management and health information collection (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 8/3).

Thompson said, "I think the Bush administration has done more than any other to bring Medicaid to the forefront." He added, "Am I satisfied? No, I'm not" (CQ HealthBeat, 10/26).


Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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