Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) joined with a bipartisan group of her colleagues to introduce an amendment that would prevent billions of dollars in cuts to Medicaid- the federal-state health care program that covers low-income individuals. The amendment passed today in the senate by a vote of 52 to 48. Senator Mikulski joined Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Senator Gordon Smith (R-Ore) in proposing this amendment to the fiscal year 2006 budget resolution.
"I'm fighting in the senate to help those who practice self-help," said Senator Mikulski. "This money is critical to ensure that the children of America's working families have access to the health care they need and deserve. This is a huge victory ensuring that the federal government fulfills its responsibilities to America's families, America's children and America's future.
The President's budget eliminates $15 billion in Medicaid funding for next year, totaling a devastating $60 billion cut over the next decade. This amendment restores the $15 billion and sets aside $1.5 million for a bipartisan blue ribbon panel that would give a comprehensive and thorough review of what is and is not working with Medicaid and would provide ideas on how to improve service delivery and quality in the most cost-effective way possible.
The legislation will set up the bipartisan commission, which would have fourteen months to hold public hearings, conduct its evaluations and deliberations, and issue its report and recommendations to the President, the Congress, and the public. The Medicaid Commission will be comprised of 24 members that reflect all the stakeholders and components in the Medicaid program.
Medicaid provides health and long-term care coverage for more than 53 million Americans and has become the country's largest health care program. Significant cuts to Medicaid will result in devastating effects for the nation's working class families, preventing some of the most vulnerable from getting the health care they need. Medicaid provides vital health services to 39 million low-income children and parents and 14 million individuals who are elderly, blind and disabled. Twenty-nine percent of births in Maryland are paid for by Medicaid.