Compromise on Medicaid Budget Cuts Possible, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Says
The Senate and House have a "good chance" of reaching a compromise to include some Medicaid cuts in the fiscal year 2006 budget, Robert Greenstein, executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said Wednesday, CQ HealthBeat reports. Greenstein said Republican leaders likely will start negotiations with the $14.9 billion to $20 billion in Medicaid and SCHIP cuts approved by the House and then reduce the cuts enough to secure 51 votes in the Senate, including Vice President Dick Cheney's tie-breaking vote.
Seven Republican senators joined Democrats in approving a budget amendment that eliminated $14 billion in Medicaid cuts previously approved by the Senate Budget Committee. Four of those Republican senators -- Sens. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) -- approved the FY 2006 budget once the Medicaid cuts were removed. Greenstein said Medicaid cuts could be determined by the point between no cuts and $14.9 billion at which those four senators might be willing to compromise.
Greenstein said Medicaid funding cuts could depend on whether the nation's governors can agree on a plan if the two chambers cannot reach a compromise, adding, "If there were no agreement with the governors, I think it would be difficult." A CBPP analysis released Wednesday found that the House budget would cut spending over five years by $30 billion to $35 billion for programs including Medicaid, food stamps and other social programs (CQ HealthBeat, 3/30).