Congressional debate over Medicaid could hold up federal budget

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The recent Republican movement against Medicaid cuts in the House could hinder negotiations for a Congressional compromise on the fiscal year 2006 budget, according to recent reports.

A letter signed last week by 43 House Republicans urged House Budget Committee Chair Jim Nussle (R-IA) to avoid cuts. This letter could make it even more difficult for the Senate and House budget committee chairs to hammer out a budget agreement, the LA Times said.

The letter is another sign of opposition to Medicaid cuts in Congress. The Senate budget resolution includes an amendment to restore $15 billion in cuts to the federal program. The House FY budget resolution currently calls for $20 billion in savings over five years, most of which is expected to come from Medicaid. Nursing homes, which receive a substantial portion of funding from Medicaid, would feel the squeeze of Medicaid cuts.