The $2.36 trillion fiscal 2005 budget plan passed by the Senate Budget Committee includes an estimated $11 billion-plus in federal Medicaid cuts over five years. Because the committee plan must rely on certain fiscal assumptions, the exact magnitude of the cuts isn't certain. The estimate was provided by the Center for Budget and Budget Priorities, a research organization that is critical of the budget plan submitted by Committee Chairman Don Nickles (R-Okla.). Committee members voted on party lines, approving the plan 12-10. The full Senate is expected to take action next week. During its deliberations, the committee agreed by voice vote on a resolution that Medicare's formula for assessing physician payments must be revised, regardless of recent steps to increase doctors' Medicare payments. The resolution, although not legislatively binding, was "a positive step toward congressional acknowledgement that a payment crisis still exists," the American Medical Association said. -- by Tony Fong and Jeff Tieman
So far, Senate budget plan holds big Medicaid cuts
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