Congress approved a budget resolution late Thursday that sets a target of cutting federal Medicaid spending by $10 billion over a four-year period, beginning in 2007, and establishes a new one-year Medicaid commission to recommend additional cost savings in the program. The resolution passed the House 214-211 and the Senate 52-47. While nonbinding, it sets critical guidelines for lawmakers as they make decisions on taxes and spending for federal fiscal 2006, which begins Oct. 1.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) said the Medicaid savings amount to roughly 1% of projected federal Medicaid spending of $1.1 trillion over the next five years. Some states will take larger hits than others, with New York, for example, set to lose $1.37 billion over the five years, according to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt called the budget "a proposal that puts us on the path toward stabilizing and strengthening Medicaid." U.S. Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) said it was an example of Republicans' "misplaced priorities." -- by Ralph Loos