Medicaid a Factor in Possible Veto of Senate Spending Bill
The White House on Tuesday formally threatened to veto a $121.7 billion Senate supplemental appropriations bill for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan that includes provisions related to Medicaid and other health care programs, CongressDaily reports (Cohn, CongressDaily, 3/27).
The Senate on Tuesday voted 50-48 to reject an amendment sponsored by Republicans to remove provisions from the legislation that would establish a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, "setting up a nearly certain veto from President Bush," CQ Today reports (Higa/Wayne, CQ Today, 3/27). In addition, the White House opposes provisions in the bill that would prevent proposed reductions in Medicaid reimbursements (CongressDaily, 3/27). The Senate could approve the legislation as early as Thursday.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that conference committee negotiations to resolve differences with a $124 billion supplemental appropriations bill passed last week by the House could begin in two weeks. Reid said that he seeks to pass a final bill by May 1 (Cohn, CongressDaily, 3/28).
In other budget news, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Tuesday said that debate on the fiscal year 2008 budget resolution on Wednesday will include consideration of three alternative resolutions (Ferrechio, CQ Today, 3/27). The House Budget Committee last week voted 22-17 along party lines to approve a $2.9 trillion budget resolution that would provide additional funds for health care for veterans.
The budget resolution exceeds the amount President Bush requested for discretionary spending by more than $24 billion. The budget resolution does not include a proposal from Bush to reduce funds for Medicare and Medicaid but does include funds to implement the recommendations of a presidential commission that has begun to investigate the quality of care provided to injured U.S. troops and veterans.
In addition, the budget resolution includes language "repudiating" a proposal from Bush for new TRICARE enrollment fees for veterans. The budget resolution also would provide additional funds for mental health care for veterans and research on traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries and as much as $50 billion in additional funds for SCHIP over five years, provided that the spending is offset (California Healthline, 3/26).
House Budget Committee ranking member Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Wednesday likely will propose an alternative budget resolution that would reduce spending for Medicaid, Medicare and other entitlement programs by $279 billion over five years. In addition, the alternative budget resolution would freeze most discretionary spending at FY 2007 levels but would allow increases in spending for health care for veterans and NIH.
Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) likely will propose an alternative budget resolution that would include the proposal from Bush to reduce funds for Medicare.
The Democratic Progressive Caucus also likely will propose an alternative budget resolution (Cohn, CongressDaily , 3/27).