The House also voted 251-175 to permanently prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars for abortions except in the cases of rape, incest and harm to the mother. That legislation builds on the Hyde amendment, a measure Congress passed in 1976 that bars the use of federal funding for abortion with the same exceptions. But because the Hyde amendment is a rider, not a permanent law, it has been added annually to appropriations bills since that time.
The Medicaid maintenance-of-effort requirement, introduced in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and expanded in the Affordable Care Act, allows states to receive increased funding for Medicaid if they agree not to reduce eligibility requirements below their February 2009 levels.
Republican members of Congress say states are demanding more flexibility to manage their Medicaid programs. The State Flexibility Act targeting the provision was introduced the same day in both houses, in the Senate by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and in the House by Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), a physician, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.).
Meanwhile, House Republicans maintained their commitment to House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's fiscal 2012 budget resolution (April 11, p. 6), which the House approved just before the spring recess. Media reports last week suggested the GOP might be walking back from their Medicare-reform plan, but an e-mail from the office of the No. 2 Republican in the House disputed those claims.
“As Leader Cantor has made clear, the House GOP position is the Ryan budget, period,” Laena Fallon, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's (R-Va.) press secretary, said in an e-mail May 5, the same day deficit-reduction talks began under the direction of Vice President Joe Biden. “Our budget assumes a debt limit increase while managing down our debt by strengthening our insolvent entitlement program, and achieving significant savings in non-health care mandatory programs and discretionary spending.”
In remarks at the National Press Club that morning, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) said if Democrats don't like the premium-support model Republicans proposed for Medicare, then they should “come to the table with something else.”
Senate Democrats pounced on conflicting news reports regarding the continued willingness of House Republicans to include Medicare changes within any deficit-reduction plan. On May 5, 50 Senate Democrats issued a letter that called the Medicare proposal in the House-passed debt plan as “reckless and irresponsible.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) led all but four Senate Democrats in sending letters to President Barack Obama and Cantor expressing opposition to the plan. “The two parties can and must work together to reduce the deficit, but not if Republicans maintain their demand to end Medicare as we know