Senate wants budget conferees to reject House Medicaid measures

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The Senate voted this week to instruct its conferees on the budget reconciliation bill to reject the House's Medicaid provisions. Many such provisions would make it harder for seniors to qualify for Medicaid-sponsored nursing home coverage.

Senators voted 75-16 in favor of the motion, which was sponsored by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT). Conferees on the bill could be announced by the end of the week.

The Senate's action follows a letter signed by seven moderate Republicans urging Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to reject the House Medicaid measures. Senators who signed the letter include Sens. Gordon Smith (OR), Arlen Specter (PA) and Olympia Snowe (ME).

Long-term care providers, preferring the Senate bill to the House bill, praised the letter. Providers are against a particular measure in the House version that would change the beginning of the penalty phase for improper transfer of assets by Medicaid applicants to coincide with a nursing home stay.

Providers argue nursing homes and not the state would then have the burden of having to collect from individuals who have no funds to pay privately and are not Medicaid eligible during their penalty phase.