The Senate has passed, by 52-47, plans to "reduce the deficit" by $35 billion over the next three years. Cuts in federal spending on prescription drugs, agriculture supports and student loans are approved as is trimming spending on Medicaid and the related Children's Health Insurance Program by $4.3 billion through 2010, and $14 billion through 2015. Political news has the roll call, showing that two Democrats - Landrieu, La. and Nelson, Neb - actually voted for the bill.
Attention will now shift to the House version of the bill, which is far more violent in its attempts to cut funding to Medicaid. According to the Washington Post:
The House's Medicaid cuts present a far more immediate political obstacle. By allowing states to impose new co-payments and premiums while scaling back some benefits, the legislation is expected to save more than $30 billion over 10 years, the CBO said, not because cost-sharing would bring in revenue but because new costs would keep the poor out of the health care system.
...Under the House plan, states could raise co-payments for Medicaid recipients below the poverty line from $3 to $5 per doctor's visit or prescription, then keep raising them with the medical inflation rate. For the working poor just above the poverty line, there would be no limit to higher co-payments, although out-of-pocket health costs are not supposed to exceed 5 percent of a family's income. Health policy analysts say that protection may not amount to much as poor families will have difficulty tracking health care expenses that closely.
For the first time, poor children and pregnant women -- currently shielded from any out-of-pocket payments -- could be billed for some medications or hospital visits for non-emergency care.
The Post also quotes Jocelyn Guyer, senior program director at Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families, who estimated that 6 million children will be affected by the changes.
Soon after the House votes on this bill, they will also vote on a new proposal for a $70 billion tax cut, which will more than wipe out any savings.
"Deficit reduction" my ass - the cost of the next tax cut for the rich will be the healthcare of 6 million American kids.