Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack’s pressing President Bush to do something to ensure Iowa doesn’t get penalized along with other states that have misused Medicaid money, but Republicans say Vilsack’s just trying to score political points against a president he opposes. Iowa has helped financial health care-related programs with money raised from a complicated maneuver that’s essentially a tax on health care providers, but several other states have not. Regardless, the state of Iowa stands to lose millions if federal regulators don’t change their minds. Vilsack has written President Bush a letter, asking Bush to personally intervene. Vilsack says the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services plans to implement a major policy change that would dramatically reduce the amount of federal Medicaid money coming Iowa’s way. Vilsack says state officials — democrats and republicans — have been negotiating with the agency for quite some time, but without success. The governor is now asking Bush to “break the logjam” and get things resolved. Vilsack says it’s not right or fair for Iowa to be penalized for the actions of other states. Vilsack says it’s a policy change that federal bureaucrats are seeking and not something that’s been called for by Congress or the President. Statehouse republicans say they’ve been working with Vilsack and the Bush Administration to try to resolve this problem, and they accuse Vilsack of taking a “political pot shot” at Bush to help his party’s candidate, John Kerry. House Speaker Christopher Rants, a republican from Sioux City, says the Governor has put politics ahead of the best interests of Iowans. Senate President Jeff Lamberti, a republican from Ankeny, says Vilsack is just trying to score points with Kerry in order to further his own political career. Iowa stands to lose $70 MILLION worth of federal money if the issue isn’t resolved.
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