Judge James Robertson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Friday "slapped down a sneaky attempt by the Bush administration to impose an onerous Medicaid regulation despite the clear intent of Congress that it be deferred," according to a New York Times editorial.
According to the editorial, the effort by the Bush administration to implement the "rushed-through rule" sought to "evade the annoying fact that Congress had enacted a one-year moratorium on the administration's efforts to alter -- and in the process cut -- Medicaid reimbursements to public hospitals and nursing homes." However, the "shifty maneuver was too much for Judge Robertson to swallow," and he "found ample reason to overturn" the rule as a "violation of congressional intent," the editorial states.
The editorial adds that "another battle is brewing over whether to defer seven proposed Medicaid rules that would clarify and cut reimbursements to various health care providers" and could have a "devastating effect on some health care institutions and state budgets." The proposals "deserve vigorous debate, preferably after a new Congress and administration take office," the editorial states, adding, "Fortunately, both houses of Congress have passed bills ... that would impose a one-year moratorium on the rules and pay for the delay with offsetting cuts in less-urgent health programs. " President Bush has threatened to veto the bills, and "Congress will need to reconcile the Senate and House versions of the bill and make it as difficult to veto as possible," according to the editorial (New York Times, 5/28).