Senators deride Medicaid cuts

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Medicaid cuts outlined in the federal budget blueprint will jeopardize long-term care and other services for more than 50 million Americans. That's the message in a letter that a group of 44 senators sent to Health and Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt. In all, 17 Republicans and 27 Democrats signed on.

Leavitt's department plans to implement a White House plan to cut Medicaid spending. One of the ways it will do so is by reducing the allowable provider tax rate from 6% to 3%. Decreasing the nursing home tax would reduce funding nationwide for long-term care by $1.6 billion and could force some rural nursing homes to close, they said.

"We do not believe it is appropriate for the Department ... to make these changes," the letter warns.