Provider groups readied for a continuing fight over Medicaid funding, after the Senate passed a 2006 budget resolution with no Medicaid spending cuts, while the House approved roughly $20 billion in Medicaid reductions over five years. The outcome now rests with a House-Senate conference committee that will meet to reconcile differences between the budget resolutions after Congress returns from its spring recess. Providers praised the Senate resolution, which dropped approximately $15 billion in Medicaid cuts and mandated the creation of a bipartisan commission to consider long-term options for the program. The Senate passed its $2.6 trillion budget plan on a 51-49 vote late Thursday night.
President Bush ignored the Senate plan and praised the House for a budget resolution that "closely follows my budget proposal and reflects our shared commitment to be wise with the people's money." The American Public Health Association said it was disappointed that the House did not follow the Senate's lead and called the House resolution "short-sighted and misguided." The House resolution, which passed 218-214 Thursday afternoon, did not contain specific proposals to achieve the $20 billion in Medicaid savings. -- by Tony Fong