House passes bill to block Medicaid cuts

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U.S. House opposes Bush’s Medicaid cutbacks. Source: Lockheed Martin  

The U.S. House voted Wednesday to block seven Medicaid regulations issued by President George W. Bush’s administration that would cut federal payments to states by $33 billion over the next 10 years.

Two-thirds of Republicans joined Democrats in voting to impose a one-year moratorium through April 1, 2009, on rules that the administration said are needed to combat fraud in Medicaid. However, lawmakers said the administration's rules would reduce funding for a host of critical services for low-income Americans, Bloomberg reported.

“The Bush Administration's proposed Medicaid regulations would leave more Americans without the healthcare they need in a time of economic uncertainty,'' said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Proponents of the bill, H.R. 5613, said that the rules would merely shift financial burdens to the states in times of economic distress, while reducing healthcare access for the poor, according to the New York Times.

The legislation would block “important regulations protecting the fiscal integrity of the Medicaid program, would put billions of dollars of federal funds at risk and would turn back progress that has already been made to stop abusive state practices,” according to the White House budget office.

The rules would also place new restrictions on the types of services, for which states are reimbursed, including rehabilitation services, graduate medical education costs and Medicaid recipients' transportation costs.