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GOP Senators, Governors Fear Health Care Burden on States

Senate Republicans joined with GOP governors on Thursday and harshly criticized Finance Chairman Max Baucus’ (D-Mont.) health care plan, charging the bill would expand Medicaid while forcing a massive unfunded mandate on cash-strapped states.

Republicans have criticized the bill for using the Medicaid system, which is partially funded by states and partially by the federal government, as a way to ensure greater health care coverage for Americans.

“We who have been governors know that dumping millions of more Americans into Medicaid is not health care reform,— Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) said Thursday morning, arguing that “it’s like giving 70 million Americans a bus ticket on a bus line that only runs 60 percent of the time.—

Budget ranking member Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), argued that given historic federal funding shortfalls for the Medicaid program, Baucus’ bill “is the ultimate ‘the check is in the mail’ bill to states.—

Mississippi’s GOP Gov. Haley Barbour, who also chairs the Republican Governors Association, warned that “every governor in the country is very concerned that this bill is very bad for our states. We are concerned this is a hug unfunded mandate … that will come to the American people as a state tax increase.—

Nebraska GOP Sen. Mike Johanns, who previously served as the state’s governor, said that while be believes Baucus tried to keep the impact on states to a minimum, in the end he was only able to lessen the burden. “I do think Max Baucus tried to make this less bad. But that’s all he accomplished,— Johanns said.

Likewise, Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas (R), National Governors Association chairman, warned that while Baucus took steps to keep states from having to foot the whole bill: “The assumption of an unfunded mandate of this magnitude is just going to be a big burden for all of our states.—

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