by Brook Raflo

Washington By a vote of 215 to 212, the U.S. House of Representatives March 20 passed a 2004 budget resolution that contains approximately $93 billion in Medicaid cuts.

Although the final resolution was less severe than its predecessor — which recommended $215 billion in cuts to both Medicaid and Medi-care — it still could hurt the home care industry, according to Seth Johnson, director of public policy at the American Association for Homecare.

“These cuts would make it very difficult for our legislative proposals that cost any amount of money,” Johnson explained. Additionally, “programs like competitive bidding could be an alternative they would look at more closely.”

AAHomecare's hopes of defeating such cuts now rest in the Senate, where lawmakers passed a 2004 budget resolution that closely follows President Bush's recommendations, but does not cut Medicaid spending.

Representatives from both the House and Senate now are meeting “in conference,” to decide on a compromise resolution, Johnson explained. Some conservative House republicans have threatened to reject any resolution that does not attempt to achieve a balanced budget within 10 years, he said.

If that happens, AAHomecare may ask its members again to urge their representatives not to enact deep health care cuts, Johnson said.

“I certainly think [members' lobbying efforts] had an impact on getting those Medicare cuts taken out of the House budget,” he said. “We probably will wait until conference, but then we will put pressure on the conference to adopt the better of the two resolutions.”

$2.3 MILLION now is available through the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to promote the health of people with disabilities.

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