By a bipartisan vote of 52-48, the Senate today stripped a proposal to require $15 billion in cuts to the Medicaid program over the next five years. The vote came on an amendment to the FY 2006 budget resolution authored by Senators Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) to remove the proposed cuts to Medicaid and replace them with a commission to examine long-term reforms to the program.
NAMI strongly supported the Smith-Bingaman Amendment and is extremely grateful to the 52 Senators that voted for it today. In particular, NAMI appreciates the support of Senators who crossed party lines to oppose cuts to Medicaid: Chafee (RI), Coleman (MN), Collins (ME), DeWine (OH), Smith (OR), Snowe (ME), and Specter (PA). NAMI advocates are strongly encouraged to contact their Senators who supported the Smith-Bingaman Amendment.
While the Senate is now on record against cuts in Medicaid, the House budget resolution -- which cleared the House this afternoon by a 218-214 margin -- still contains a requirement for $20 billion in cuts to Medicaid over the next five years. When Congress returns from its upcoming Easter recess on April 4, a House-Senate Conference Committee will reconcile differences between the separate proposals. It is expected that pressure will be brought from the White House and House and Senate leaders to restore the cuts to Medicaid that were stripped by the Senate today. Thus strong grassroots pressure during the coming Easter recess will be critically important to keeping Medicaid cuts out of the final budget resolution.
Starting March 21, Congress will be on a two-week "district work period" during which members will be in their states and districts meeting with constituents, holding town meetings and appearing on local radio call-in programs. NAMI advocates are encouraged to reach out to Senators and House members through phone calls, e-mails and personal visits to express support for the Smith-Bingaman Amendment to keep Medicaid cuts out of the FY 2006 budget resolution.
Remind members of the Congress that:
All congressional offices can be reached by calling toll-free 1-800-828-0498.
Read additional information on the Smith-Bingaman Amendment and Medicaid.