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Defying Bush, House votes to block Medicaid cuts

From the Associated Press

The House voted Wednesday to block the Bush administration from cutting federal spending on Medicaid for the poor by $13 billion over the next five years. President Bush has threatened a veto, but supporters have more than enough votes in the House to override him, and maybe in the Senate too.

Two-thirds of the Republicans joined every voting Democrat in the 349-62 vote to impose a one-year moratorium, through next March, on seven rules changes that the administration argues are needed to rectify waste and abuse in the state-federal partnership to provide healthcare to the poor.

Supporters of the bill said the rules would shift financial burdens to the states at a time of economic distress while reducing access to healthcare for the country’s neediest people.

The governors of all 50 states, state Medicaid directors and others oppose the rules, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) told the House.

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“They know the devastating effects these rules would have on local communities, upon hospitals and upon vulnerable beneficiaries,” Dingell said.

The legislation now must move through the Senate Finance Committee and get a vote on the Senate floor. Finance committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) applauded the House vote, saying he intended to work with his Senate colleagues “on strategies to stop harmful Medicaid regulations as well.”


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