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Senate Passes Budget Bill That Is Harmful For Medicaid Recipients With Serious Mental Illnesses

December 21, 2005

This morning, the Senate passed the Budget Reconciliation package (S 1932) on a 50-50 tie vote, with Vice President Dick Cheney casting the tie-breaking vote, allowing the bill to pass.  S 1932, as passed, allows states to impose co-pays and other cost sharing requirements in their Medicaid programs.  However, because of a last minute procedural "point of order," the bill must now go back to the House for a second vote -- the House had previously passed the bill on December 19.  Thus, the House still has a chance to do the right thing and remove the harmful Medicaid provisions.

The House is not expected to reconvene until January, at which time it will be required to vote again on the amended budget package, presenting advocates with a final opportunity to block the legislation. 

It is unclear at this point how many House members would have to switch their votes to defeat the amended budget package.  The first vote in the House on December 19 was 212-206, with 17 members absent (it is expected that a majority of the members that missed the vote support the package).  Despite this, NAMI intends to redouble its efforts to reach out to House members in the coming weeks to defeat the amended budget package.  Your grassroots advocacy is urgently needed to prevent S 1932 from becoming law!   

Action Needed

Please contact your U.S. Representative to urge opposition to S 1932 when it comes up for a vote.  Explain that the Medicaid cost-sharing requirements contained in S 1932 will prevent impoverished people living with severe mental illnesses from receiving needed treatment and will therefore lead to increased homelessness, hospitalizations, criminalization, and suffering.

Click here to view a sample letter for House members who supported reductions to Medicaid.

Click here to view a sample letter for House members who opposed reductions to Medicaid.

You may find out how your Senators and House member voted on S 1932 by clicking here.  

NAMI is especially grateful to the following Republican members of Congress that crossed party lines to oppose higher cost sharing and cuts to Medicaid:  Senators Lincoln Chafee (RI), Susan Collins (ME), Mike DeWine (OH), Gordon Smith (OR) and Olympia Snowe (ME).  Representatives Steve Buyer (IN), Tim Johnson (IL), Steve LaTourette (OH), Jim Leach (IA), Bob Ney (OH), Chris Smith (NJ), John McHugh (NY), and Heather Wilson (NM).

A detailed analysis of the Medicaid Budget Reconciliation Conference Report can be viewed on the NAMI Web site.


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