Senate Set To Vote on Extending Funding for Medicaid Programs
On Thursday, the Senate is scheduled to convene for the final vote on legislation that includes $16.1 billion in additional federal Medicaid funding for states through June 2011, the New York Times reports. The bill is expected to pass (Herszenhorn, New York Times, 8/4).
On Wednesday, the chamber voted 61-38 to invoke cloture and end debate on a $26.1 billion state financial aid package that includes the Medicaid funding proposal (Lillis, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 8/4).
TheÂ package would provide $1.3 billion to California for Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program.Â The amountÂ is less than the $1.8 billion that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and other lawmakers counted on when drafting state budget plans for the current fiscal year (Lochhead, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/5).
Two Republican senators -- Susan Collins (Maine) and Olympia Snowe (Maine) -- joined all 59 members of the Senate Democratic caucus in support of the motion ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 8/4).
Background of Package
On Monday, Senate Democrats were forced to revise the aid package -- which they introduced last week as a substitute amendment to a non-health-care-related House-passed bill (HR 1586) -- after congressional analysts found that some of its non-Medicaid-funding-related provisions would have added nearly $5 billion to the deficit over 10 years (California Healthline, 8/3).
However, congressional analysts on Tuesday said that the revised package is fully offset and would reduce future deficits by $1.37 billion over the next decade (Rogers, Politico, 8/3).
A number of state governors had been calling for the additional Medicaid money, which they say would allow their states to shift money to other pressing needs (New York Times, 8/4). Senate Democrats said that final passage of the legislation would help states overcome projected revenue shortfalls and prevent broad layoffs and budget cuts.
However, Republicans continued to express concern over some of the measure's budgetary offsets (Lesniewski, CQ Today, 8/4). For example, the measure calls for an end to a tax loophole for multinational corporations, which Republicans characterized as a $10 billion tax increase on those companies.
Should the Senate approve the measure, the House would need to approve it before it can be sent to President Obama for his signature (New York Times, 8/4).
Pelosi To Summon House Members Back From Recess
Shortly after the Senate voted for cloture, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced on Twitter that she would call House members back to Washington, D.C., early next week to take up the measure (Berman et al., The Hill, 8/4).
The House adjourned for the August recess on Friday and the chamber was not scheduled to return until Sept. 14.
The House adopted adjournment rules on July 29 that authorized the speaker to reconvene the chamber "at such place and time as she may designate if, in her opinion, the public interest shall warrant it," CQ Today reports (Epstein/Rubin, CQ Today, 8/4).
Calls for the House to act on the package by several Senate Democrats -- including Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) -- as well as Collins and Snowe, likely played a key role in Pelosi's decision to reconvene the lower chamber (Dennis/Pierce, Roll Call, 8/5).
In a statement released on Wednesday, Pelosi confirmed that "the House will act quickly to approve this legislation once the Senate votes" (Epstein/Rubin, CQ Today, 8/4).
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) also issued a statement, announcing that the House would meet on Monday and Tuesday, "to vote on the bill and send it to [Obama] for his signature" (Sanchez, CongressDaily, 8/5).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.