October 31, 2005
This week and next, both the House and Senate will be taking up legislation to reform the Medicaid program and achieve a net $10 billion in savings over the next 5 years. Congressional leaders and the Bush Administration hope to reach agreement on the legislation – known as budget "reconciliation" – by Thanksgiving. The reconciliation package touches not only Medicaid, but also a broad range of domestic programs including farm subsidies, student loans, food stamps, and child support enforcement to achieve an overall savings target approaching $50 billion.
The separate bills reported by the House Energy & Commerce and Senate Finance Committees this past week differ substantially. The House bill closely follows recommendations put forward by the National Governors Association (NGA) granting states unprecedented flexibility to impose higher cost sharing and premiums on beneficiaries and design benefit packages below current Medicaid standards. By contrast, the Senate bill achieves most of its savings through cuts in payments to Medicare managed care plans and higher rebates paid to states by generic and brand name drug makers.
Advocates are urged to contact their Senators and House member and urge them to oppose provisions in this budget reconciliation package that would adversely impact children and adults on Medicaid living with severe mental illness. Of greatest concern to NAMI are the following proposals:
In addition, there are a number of provisions in both the House and Senate bills that NAMI is supporting and that would improve upon the structure of Medicaid. NAMI urges support for the following proposals:
All members of Congress can be reached by calling the Capitol Switchboard 202-224-3121 or online through www.congress.org.
Enter your zip code below to access a sample letter on this issue and a list of your representatives to contact now. If you do not see the box for entering your zip code, click here.
Click here to view a background paper on the separate House and Senate Medicaid proposals.