Murray, Budget Dems Move Step Closer in Protecting Medicaid

Mar 10 2005

Bipartisan agreement puts Committee on-record opposing Medicaid cuts, caps and shifts in costs

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today joined Democratic colleagues on the Senate Budget Committee in succeeding to put the Committee on-the-record in opposition to arbitrary cuts and caps to Medicaid. The Senators obtained a bi-partisan ‘sense of the Senate’ agreement which puts the Senate a step closer to protecting Medicaid’s commitment to providing health insurance to tens of millions of Americans and renews the focus on the importance of protecting this important program.

Senator Murray joined Senators Corzine (D-NJ), Wyden (D-OR), and Johnson (D-SD) in securing the ‘sense of the Senate’ amendment to the 2006 Senate Budget Resolution which states that the budget should not:

“…cap federal Medicaid spending, or otherwise shift Medicaid cost burdens to state or local governments, their taxpayers and health providers, forcing a reduction in access to essential health care services.”

The Senate Republican Fiscal Year 2006 Budget Resolution calls for almost $15 billion in federal Medicaid cuts over the next five years. The President’s budget proposal called for cuts of $7.6 billion, as estimated by the Congressional Budget Office.

“At a time when Washington state and others across the country are struggling to meet soaring health care costs, we should not be playing games with a program that helps ensure coverage to our most vulnerable residents,” Murray said. “The guarantee of health insurance that Medicaid provides is a solemn commitment – I hope today’s action moves us closer to preserving that commitment for years to come. I will continue to fight to protect Medicaid as the budget process moves forward. ”

Last week in a letter, Murray and her Democratic women colleagues urged the Budget Committee leaders not to cut or cap Medicaid in the fiscal year 2006 budget. The program, which provides care to millions of Americans, is especially beneficial to women.

“Given the importance of providing care to our most vulnerable citizens and the increased economic burden that cuts or caps on Medicaid would put on the states, we urge you to oppose cuts or caps to Medicaid,” the Senators wrote.

Details of the Sense of the Senate amendment are included below.

Democratic Medicaid Amendment to the FY2006 Budget

Amendment by Senators Corzine, Wyden, Murray, and Johnson Purpose: To express the sense of the Senate that any Finance Committee reconciliation bill should not achieve spending reductions that undermine Medicaid’s role in our nation’s health care system, cap federal Medicaid spending, or otherwise shift Medicaid cost burdens to state or local governments and their taxpayers and health providers, or undermine the federal guarantee of health insurance coverage Medicaid provides.


(a) FINDINGS – The Senate makes the following findings:

    (1) The Medicaid program provides essential health care and long-term care services to more than 50,000,000 low-income children, pregnant women, parents, individuals with disabilities, and senior citizens. It is a Federal guarantee that ensures the most vulnerable will have access to needed medical services.

    (2) Medicaid provides critical access to long-term care and other services for the elderly and individuals living with disabilities, and is the single largest provider of long-term care services. Medicaid also pays for personal care and other supportive services that are typically not provided by private health insurance or Medicare, but are necessary to enable individuals with spinal cord injuries, developmental disabilities, neurological degenerative diseases, serious and persistent mental illnesses, HIV/AIDS, and other chronic conditions to remain in the community, to work, and to maintain independence.

    (3) Medicaid supplements the Medicare program for more than 6,000,000 low-income elderly or disabled Medicare beneficiaries, assisting them with their Medicare premiums and co-insurance, wrap-around benefits, and the costs of nursing home care that Medicare does not cover. The Medicaid program spent nearly $40,000,000,000 on uncovered Medicare services in 2002.

    (4) Medicaid provides health insurance for more than one-quarter of America's children and is the largest purchaser of maternity care, paying for more than one-third of all the births in the United States each year. Medicaid also provides critical access to care for children with disabilities, covering more than 70 percent of poor children with disabilities.

    (5) More than 16 million women depend on Medicaid for their health care. Women comprise the majority of seniors (71 percent) on Medicaid. Half of nonelderly women with permanent mental or physical disabilities have health coverage through Medicaid. Medicaid provides treatment for low-income women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer in every State.

    (6) Medicaid is the Nation's largest source of payment for mental health services, HIV/AIDS care, and care for children with special needs. Much of this care is either not covered by private insurance or limited in scope or duration. Medicaid is also a critical source of funding for health care for children in foster care and for health services in schools.

    (7) Medicaid funds help ensure access to care for all Americans. Medicaid is the single largest source of revenue for the Nation's safety net hospitals, health centers, and nursing homes, and is critical to the ability of these providers to adequately serve all Americans.

    (8) Medicaid serves a major role in ensuring that the number of Americans without health insurance, approximately 45,000,000 in 2003, is not substantially higher. The system of Federal matching for State Medicaid expenditures ensures that Federal funds will grow as State spending increases in response to unmet needs, enabling Medicaid to help buffer the drop in private coverage during recessions. More than 4,800,000 Americans lost employer-sponsored coverage between 2000 and 2003, during which time Medicaid enrolled an additional 8,400,000 Americans.

(b) SENSE OF THE SENATE – It is the sense of the Senate that the Finance Committee shall not report a reconciliation bill that achieves spending reductions that would:

    (1) undermine the role the Medicaid program plays as a critical component of the health care system of the United States;

    (2) cap federal Medicaid spending, or otherwise shift Medicaid cost burdens to state or local governments and their taxpayers and health providers, forcing a reduction in access to essential health services for low-income elderly individuals, individuals with disabilities, and children and families; or

    (3) undermine the federal guarantee of health insurance coverage Medicaid provides, which would threaten not only the health care safety net of the United States, but the entire health care system.