The House voted 218-214 to pass a 2006 budget resolution calling for roughly $20 billion in Medicaid cuts over five years. The Senate earlier stripped $14 billion in Medicaid cuts from its budget resolution on a 52-48 vote, replacing the cuts with a bipartisan commission to explore long-term changes to Medicaid. The Senate is expected to vote on a final budget resolution in April. The House-passed resolution did not contain specific proposals to achieve the Medicaid savings; consumer advocates believe that appropriators will seek guidance from President Bush's budget, which calls for reducing mental-health services.
Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee voted 20-0 in support of Daniel Levinson as HHS inspector general. At deadline, it was not known when the full Senate would vote on Levinson's nomination. -- by Ralph Loos and Tony Fong