Governors Won't Join

HHS Panel on Medicaid

Governors working on proposals to improve the Medicaid program backed away yesterday from joining a federal commission that is supposed to recommend ways to trim $10 billion from the federal-state health care program for the poor.

Congressional Democrats last week announced they would not be part of the commission being set up by Mike Leavitt, secretary of health and human services, at the behest of Congress.

Democratic leaders said they oppose the $10 billion reduction in spending.

Leavitt had listed the governors as possible appointees. But governors think they have made so much progress on their recommendations, which include cost savings, that they would be duplicating work by joining the commission, said Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), vice chairman of the National Governors Association.

"We think the commission will take a bit longer to get going than the governors are. We have things ready on the table," said Huckabee, a leader of the governors' Medicaid work group. "To start all over with the commission will only slow the process down."

He said the governors' staff members will share their ideas with the commission. Christina Pearson, an HHS spokeswoman, said the agency hopes to continue talking with the governors.

Baby Boomers Lose

School Record to Kids

More than 30 years after becoming the largest group of schoolchildren in U.S. history, baby boomers have finally lost their record -- to their kids.

A total of 49.6 million children attended public and private school in 2003, beating the previous high mark of 48.7 million, set in 1970 when the baby-boom generation was in school.

The growth is largely because of all the children who were born in the late 1940s to early 1960s and have since become parents themselves, the Census Bureau said yesterday. Rising immigration played a part, too, in pushing enrollment past the 1970 record of 48.7 million.

"You could have predicted this back in 1970 when we had all those kids," said Mark Mather, a demographer for the Population Reference Bureau, which assesses population trends.

"We knew they were going to have kids of their own. We have this classic echo effect going on."

U.S. Wants New York's

Unused Sept. 11 Aid

New York has not spent about $125 million for workers injured in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and their aftermath, and the federal government wants the money back.

New York lawmakers are trying to keep the money. A House committee meeting next week will consider reclaiming the money as proposed by the Bush administration's budget for fiscal 2006.

A group of 21 New York lawmakers is urging the White House to redirect the money toward health programs for Ground Zero workers who now have lung problems. The administration has resisted.

-- From News Services