House Leaders ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ on Budget Reconciliation Bill
House Republican leaders are "cautiously optimistic" that the House budget reconciliation bill (HR 4241) will win approval as soon as Thursday, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports (Taylor, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 11/17).
The bill, which would reduce Medicaid spending by about $9.5 billion over five years, was pulled from the House floor without a vote on Nov. 10 after the Republican leadership decided that they lacked the votes necessary for approval (California Healthline, 11/11).
House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) "has been working hard to salvage" the reconciliation bill, although there is still "resistance from Republicans unhappy" with provisions including a requirement that Medicaid beneficiaries pay a fraction of their health care costs, the AP/Sun reports.
Hastert said, "We're always making progress everyday. Sometimes it's inches. Sometimes it's feet. Sometimes it's backward."
Budget Committee Chair Jim Nussle (R-Iowa) said, "There is no question we are having a difficult time rounding up the votes" (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 11/17).
Some health care lobbyists who oppose the budget reconciliation bill "employ[ed] a somewhat untraditional strategy as last week's vote drew nearer: backing off," The Hill reports.
Lobbyists for the nursing home industry, retail pharmacies and drug makers said an aggressive effort to sway the vote "could backfire by drawing the ire" of the bill's supporters, The Hill reports. One lobbyist said, "The thing's imploding on its own" (Young, The Hill, 11/17).
In related news, KPBS' "KPBS News" on Wednesday reported on protests outside Rep. Randy Cunningham's (R-Calif.) Escondido office calling for his vote against the budget because of its proposed cuts to social programs, including Medicaid (Goldberg, "KPBS News," KPBS, 11/16).
The complete transcript is available online. The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.