WELFARE: SENATE APPROVES WELFARE REFORM LEGISLATION
The Senate approved legislation yesterday that "wouldThis is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
radically overhaul the nation's welfare programs and end the
federal guarantee of benefits to the poor," BOSTON GLOBE reports.
However, President Clinton's support for the bill remains "in
doubt." The legislation, which is similar to a measure passed by
the House last week, would restrict "eligibility for Supplemental
Security Income benefits for disabled children," set a five year
lifetime limit for welfare assistance per family, force
recipients to find work after two years and deny assistance to
noncitizens (Black, 7/24). In addition, the Senate version of
the bill "would ensure continued Medicaid coverage for the most
needy, especially children" (McDonald, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 7/24).
MINORITY POINT OF VIEW: NPR's Kenyon reports that Senate
Minority Leader Tom Daschle was critical of the bill noting that
"several provisions need improvement, particularly those denying
benefits to non-citizens." Daschle said, "This bill even cuts
off assistance to legal immigrants who are disabled. What kind
of message does that send about what kind of people we are?"
("Morning Edition," 7/24).
THE BOTTOM LINE: Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (MS)
called the bill "historic" and said that it would "end welfare as
... a way of life." He added that he expects the bill to be sent
to Clinton by the end of next week, when Congress' August recess
is scheduled to begin (Vobejda/Dewar, WASHINGTON POST, 7/24). A
House-Senate conference should begin working out the differences
between the two bills sometime this week, CONGRESS DAILY A.M.
reports (7/24). During a campaign stop in California yesterday,
Clinton said that he is still concerned about several provisions
in the bill. However, he added, "I'm optimistic we can make it
even better in the conference" (Skorneck, AP/Tucson ARIZONA DAILY
WHAT A TANGLED WEB WE WEAVE: According to the POST, both
the House and Senate welfare reform bills would cut the Aid to
Families with Dependent Children program (AFDC), which is
administered by the federal government, and replace it with
"state-run cash assistance programs" (7/24). Center on Budget
and Policy Priorities analyst Cindy Mann notes that "Medicaid and
AFDC are intertwined" and the repeal of the AFDC would put
"current Medicaid eligibility at risk." She said that currently
four million adults and 1.2 million children over the age of 13
are eligible for Medicaid only because of their AFDC status. In
addition, she notes that AFDC status is used to determine
financial eligibility for Medicaid. Mann said, however, that she
believes that the effects of the policy change are "unintended
consequence[s]." Faulkner & Gray's HEALTH LEGISLATION reports
that Sens. John Breaux (D-LA) and John Chafee (R-RI) successfully
amended the bill yesterday to "fix ... the AFDC problem by
ensuring the ongoing eligibility link between Medicaid and