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Medicaid Alert: House and Senate Move Forward With Budget Resolutions Cutting Medicaid – Effort to Restore Funding Expected Next Week

March 11, 2005

Both the House and Senate Budget Committees acted this week on separate versions of the FY 2006 budget resolution that include cuts to the Medicaid program. When the full Senate takes up its version next week, Senators Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) will be offering an amendment to reject these cuts and instead authorize a bipartisan commission on the future of the program.

Action Required

Advocates are strongly encouraged to contact their Senators and urge them to support the Smith-Bingaman Amendment to the FY 2006 budget resolution. Also please request that proposed cuts to Medicaid and authorize a bipartisan commission to develop recommendations on reforms to this critical safety net program for children and adults living with severe mental illnesses. Please remind Senators that:

- Medicaid is the largest source of funding for the public mental health system in every state – especially optional services each state Medicaid program offers to mandatory beneficiaries (particularly individuals eligible for SSI). These optional services include prescription drugs, case management and assertive community treatment.

-The growth in Medicaid spending in recent years is driven by overall health care costs in the economy – NOT by the demands of program beneficiaries with severe disabilities and chronic illnesses who rely on Medicaid as a safety net. In fact, Medicaid growth is actually below that for insurance premiums in the private sector.

-The burden for deficit reduction should not fall hardest on the most vulnerable and disabled – including children and adults with severe mental illnesses.

-A bipartisan Medicaid commission will ensure that efforts to reform the program and restrain future spending are based on established principles and goals for reforms, NOT an arbitrary budget target.

Call toll-free 1-800-828-0498 to discuss this issue.

Bipartisan Opposition to Federal Caps in Medicaid

During deliberations in the Senate Budget Committee yesterday, Senators endorsed an amendment offered by Senator Jon Corzine (D-NJ) rejecting efforts to place a cap or strict limits on federal Medicaid matching funds for the states. While this amendment does not have the force of law, it does place the Senate firmly on record against efforts to place strict limits on the federal contribution to Medicaid that would destroy the program as an entitlement and safety net for the most vulnerable and disabled beneficiaries. NAMI thanks Senator Corzine for his leadership on this important issue.

Click here for detailed background information regarding Medicaid cuts.

Click here for more information on the Medicaid program and its importance to children and adults with severe mental illnesses.

Click here for more  information on the Smith-Bingaman Amendment.