Senate Reworks Medicaid Aid Package After Cost Analysis
On Monday night, the Senate voted 95-0 to table a $26.1 billion state financial aid package, which included $16.1 billion in additional federal Medicaid funding for states through June 2011, after Democrats underestimated its cost, The Hill reports (Alarkon/Bolton, The Hill, 8/2).
The aid package -- which was introduced last week as a substitute amendment to a non-health-care-related House-passed bill (HR 1586) -- included a Medicaid funding proposal that would make the payments to states on a sliding scale, starting with a 3.2% increase in the first quarter of 2011 and a 1.2% increase in the second quarter.
Democrats said the package would be fully offset by closing foreign tax credit loopholes, implementing spending cuts, reducing Medicaid drug pricing and ending an increase to food-stamp funding under the 2009 stimulus package (California Healthline, 8/2).
Concerns Over Costs
However, a preliminary Congressional Budget Office analysis found that although the $16.1 billion cost of the Medicaid funding expansion is fully offset, other provisions in the amendment package would add nearly $5 billion to the deficit over 10 years (Pecquet, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 8/2).
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) -- who initially planned to conduct a vote for cloture on the measure on Monday night -- acknowledged that the package's "score did not turn out as we intended," and opted to conduct a vote to table the measure instead (Lesniewski, CQ Today, 8/2). Reid said the proposal included budget data that reflected a CBO analysis of a previous House measure, which have since changed (The Hill, 8/2).
Lawmakers from both parties have insisted that any proposal to provide states with Medicaid funding must be fully offset, and agreed that CBO's analysis would prevent the package from drawing the 60 votes required for cloture (CQ Today, 8/2).
Democrats Offer New Proposal, Cloture Vote Rescheduled
Late on Monday night, Senate Democrats offered a newly revised amendment package, which they said will be deficit-neutral, CQ Today reports (CQ Today, 8/2).
Reid said the new package had "technical corrections" and reiterated that it would be fully paid for. Reid also filed a new cloture motion on the revised package, setting up the vote for Wednesday morning (The Hill, 8/2).
Senate Democrats need to secure the support of all 59 members of their caucus and at least one Republican to make up the 60 votes necessary for cloture (California Healthline, 8/2).If the Senate approves the bill, the House would need to vote on it, but the lower chamber already has adjourned for its August recess and is not expected to be back in session until mid-September (Ethridge/Smith, CQ Today, 8/2). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.