House Passes Stimulus Plan Without Medicaid Assistance
The House on Tuesday voted 385-35 to approve a $146 billion economic stimulus package (HR 5140) that does not include a temporary increase in the federal medical assistance percentage for states' Medicaid programs, the AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.
The bill faces a "murky future in the Senate," as senators favor a larger package that could include Medicaid funding, according to the AP/Times-Dispatch (Hirschfeld Davis, AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1/29).
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Wednesday is expected to offer an amendment to the Senate's package that would temporarily increase the FMAP, CongressDaily reports.
Five committee Democrats on Tuesday sent a letter to Finance Committee leaders expressing their support for additional Medicaid funds.
States, unions, health organizations and community groups also support the amendment, "but that might not be enough to win the needed votes in the committee," according to CongressDaily (Cohn/Johnson, CongressDaily, 1/30).
The full Senate could take up the measure as early as this week.
However, USA Today reports that action on the bill "would slow down if senators seek to add spending for such things as food stamps, Medicaid, low-income heating assistance" and other programs (Wolfe, USA Today, 1/30).
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said it is unlikely the Senate will simply accept the House's version without making any changes. He said, "I think that there's 51 Democratic senators without exception who believe this package can be made better," adding that he expects to have enough Republican support to change it.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she hopes the Senate will "take this bill and run with it," and not add on additional measures. She said, "It's important that this bill not get overloaded. I have a full agenda of things I would like to have in the package, but we have to contain the price," adding, "We made a decision because that's where we could find our common ground" (AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1/29).
President Bush said, "The temptation is going to be for the Senate to load it up. We need to get this bill out of the Senate and on my desk so the checks can get in the hands of our consumers, and our businesses can be assured of the incentives necessary to make investments" (USA Today, 1/30).