Wednesday, October 26, 2005
The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday approved $10 billion in Medicaid and Medicare savings as part of a broader effort by congressional Republicans to trim spending and approve additional tax cuts.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said the bill's savings would affect the health industry and not beneficiaries. The bill, approved by a 11-9 party line vote, would improve health care access for children and low income beneficiaries, he said.
But Democratic opponents said they are worried the emphasis would shift to beneficiaries later in the legislative process when the Senate and House of Representatives try to work out differences.
"I am concerned about the fate of the bill," Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, the top Democrat on the panel. "Although many of its policies are sound, I am not confident that most will survive a conference with the House."
Grassley said the full Senate could take up the measure as early as next week.
The legislation is part of a broader effort in the Senate to cut spending by about $35 billion over five years with most of the reductions from health care and other mandatory programs. But conservatives are pushing for even bigger savings throughout a greater number of government programs.