Background: On Wednesday, May 14 the Senate is expected to begin debate on a tax bill implementing the tax cuts called for in their budget resolution. When the Senate Finance Committee marked-up the tax bill, it set aside $20 billion for fiscal relief to the states. The specific instructions on how the states can use the money will be decided when the full Senate considers the tax bill. We expect amendments to be offered during the floor debate directing how the money is to be allocated.
Earlier this year, the Senate passed a non-binding Sense of the Senate resolution by a vote of 80-19, calling for $30 billion in fiscal relief for the states, with ½ to be dedicated to a temporary increase in Medicaid payments. (See attached voting roster to see how your Senators voted.)
The states are facing a continuing fiscal crisis. States experienced $80 billion in budget shortfalls for fiscal year 2003, and another $79 billion for fiscal year 2004. Most states have balanced budget requirements, and must respond to deficit projections with budget cuts. These cuts affect the states' health care, education, public safety, and human services programs. For example, if the cuts proposed for 2004 go forward, the number of people who will have lost Medicaid, SCHIP or state health coverage due to state cuts could top 1.7 million with more facing cuts in the kinds of benefits they receive.
Call on your Senator NOW to protect health care coverage for the most vulnerable among us by:
- Living up to the commitment they already made to provide $30 billion to the states; at the very least, supporting the $20 billion set-aside in the Senate Finance Committee mark-up.
- Dedicating at least 50% of state fiscal relief funds for the Medicaid program to provide health care to low income children and families, disabled and elderly citizens.
Thom Shellabarger, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-541-3189
Kathy Curran, email@example.com, 202-541-3188
Mark Gallagher, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-541-3142
How Senators Voted on the Sense of the Senate Resolution to Provide State Fiscal Relief, Including Medicaid:
Not Voting - 1