House Continues Negotiations on Medicaid Spending Cuts
Congressional discussions on proposed budget cuts to Medicaid have become "increasingly tense" in the House as some Republicans want to use "fast-track budget reconciliation rules to enact substantial savings," a move that some political moderates oppose, CQ HealthBeat reports (CQ HealthBeat, 4/18). The House FY 2006 budget resolution would instruct the House Energy and Commerce Committee to find $20 billion in savings over five years, most of which is expected to come from Medicaid. The Senate budget resolution includes no Medicaid cuts. Formal negotiations on a compromise have not yet begun, but Senate and House budget committee chairs have met to try to reach a deal (California Healthline, 4/18).
Forty-three House Republicans and one Republican delegate on April 13 sent a letter to House Budget Committee Chair Jim Nussle (R-Iowa) asking him to strike the Medicaid cuts. According to CQ HealthBeat, it "is clear that a majority of the House would prefer not to cut Medicaid." However, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) on Tuesday wrote a letter to Nussle asking him to maintain in the House Budget Resolution an instruction to the House Energy and Commerce Committee to reduce Medicaid spending. Hensarling wrote, "That instruction is modest, meaningful and achievable. Conservatives want to enthusiastically embrace this budget resolution but cannot do so without meaningful reconciliation" (CQ HealthBeat, 4/18).