LTC groups rally behind senators in support of budget amendment

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Providers are joining ranks with two senators who have sponsored an amendment to the 2006 Senate budget resolution that would lessen proposed Medicaid cuts by $14 billion over five years and also call for a Bipartisan Medicaid Commission.

The American Health Care Association, as well as the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging and other groups, sent a letter of support to Sens. Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM). Their amendment could come to the floor of the Senate for debate this week.

Many Republicans and Democrats are expected to support the proposal, while Mike Leavitt, the Health and Human Services Secretary, reportedly opposes it. Bingaman and Smith last month introduced a bill that would create a commission of experts to evaluate Medicaid and recommend improvements.

"We're not saying no [to Medicaid cuts], but we are saying let's be careful," Smith, who is head of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, said in an interview.