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Governors lobby to stave Medicaid cost shift

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WASHINGTON, Dec 26, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- The National Governors Association has begun a bipartisan lobbying effort to stave off new Medicaid cost shifting from the U.S. federal government.

President Bush pledged to cut the federal budget deficit in half within the next five years and the governors fear the president plans to shift more Medicaid costs to the states, the New York Times reported Sunday.

"I certainly understand the need to balance the federal budget," said Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, a Republican. "But people need to remember that to balance the federal budget off the backs of the poorest people in the country is simply unacceptable."

The states and the federal government spend more than $300 billion annually for Medicaid, which insures a quarter of the nation's children and two-thirds of its nursing-home patients.

On average, it makes up 22 percent of states' budgets, compared with 10 percent in 1987.

Medicaid costs more than what states spend on elementary and secondary education combined, according to the National Governors Association.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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