Lawmakers' budget blueprint excludes Medicare, Medicaid reductions

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House and Senate Democrats have agreed upon a $3.3 trillion budget blueprint that does not include some potentially harmful funding cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.

The blueprint, which functions as a guide for Congress to use when allocating money for government programs and appropriations bills, lays the groundwork for a balanced budget by 2012, Democrats say. Both the House and Senate could approve the measure as early as next week, according to Kent Conrad (D-ND), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

Budget proposals from the president have included funding cuts of $178 billion to Medicare and $17 billion to Medicaid over the next five years. Many lawmakers and healthcare organizations have been critical of those proposed cuts since President Bush introduced his budget in early February. Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH), though, panned the Democrats' plan, calling it irresponsible to disregard all the Medicare proposals, according to The New York Times.