Early on March 12, the Senate completed action on the FY 2005 budget resolution, after eliminating $11 billion in proposed cuts to Medicaid over the next five years. The House is scheduled to take up its version of the budget resolution this week. The draft House proposal contains nearly $2.2 billion in required reductions to Medicaid and SCHIP (the State Childrens Health Insurance Program) through unspecified efforts to curb "waste, fraud and abuse."
While the budget resolution does not have the force of law, its provisions do provide binding guidance to House and Senate Committees to produce specified reductions and policy changes to entitlement programs such as Medicaid and SCHIP. These cuts take the form of binding instructions to the Senate Finance Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee to reduce federal matching funds to Medicaid program without specifying where to make the reductions. Under House and Senate budget rules these assumptions carry enormous weight and result in a procedural requirement for cuts later in the year. It is therefore critically important to maintain pressure on the House to reject cuts to Medicaid just as the Senate did last week on a bipartisan basis.
During debate last week on the budget resolution, the Senate acted on a number of amendments of importance to NAMI:
March 15, 2004