Legislative Week in Review – Say Ahhh! A Children’s Health Policy Blog

There are a lot of bad ideas floating around Congress that could harm children and families who rely upon Medicaid or CHIP to meet their health care needs.  Here are the highlights of what happened on the hill this week on various proposals that would undermine the stability of Medicaid and CHIP coverage.

Senate Finance Committee Holds Hearing on Global Cap

The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing this week on
a proposal by Senators Corker and McCaskill to impose an arbitrary limit on
federal spending through a global spending cap.  CBPP’s Senior Fellow Paul Van de Water testified that such a
cap would have a destabilizing force on the economy.  It would “risk tipping faltering economies into recession,
make recessions deeper, and make recovery from a recession more
difficult.”   A rigid cap would
also undermine our government’s ability to respond to changing needs including
rising health care costs and an aging population with increasing health
needs.  A global spending cap would
force deep cuts in Mediciad and other vital programs.

Legislation to Repeal Medicaid/CHIP Stability Protections

My colleague Jocelyn Guyer blogged about legislation
introduced by Senator Hatch in the Senate and Represenative Gingrey in the
House to repeal the stability protections (aka “maintenance of effort”
requirements).  We’ve heard this
legislation may be marked up in a House Committee as early as next week.

A Call for Hearings on Impact of Ryan Budget on Medicaid
& Medicare Beneficiaries


Four seasoned Members of Congress with decades of health
policy experience expressed concern about the lack of Congressional scrutiny
over how the Ryan budget plan would impact those who rely on Medicare and
Medicaid to meet their health care needs. 
The four serve as ranking members of the panels with jurisdiction over
Medicaid and Medicare and have asked the Committee Chairmen to hold hearings on
the impact of  Budget Committee
Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget plan that was approved by the House.   The letter, signed by Ranking
Members Waxman, Levin, Stark and Pallone, points out that the far-reaching
changes to Medicare and Medicaid included in the budget plan absolutely
necessitate hearings on how such cuts would impact these vital programs and the
people that rely upon them.  They
write that the Ryan budget is not a cost-savings plan but a cost-shifting plan
that would pass costs onto states, local communities, providers, seniors,
people with disabilities and children and families.

All Eyes on the Debt Ceiling

While there are many skirmishes going on that would impact
health care coverage, the major battle will take place when policymakers take
up legislation to raise the debt ceiling. Behind-the-scenes talks are underway
and Members of Congress have a wide range of demands of proposals they want
to attach in exchange for their vote – everything from repealing the Affordable
Care Act to a global spending cap with an automatic
trigger.   The Administration
has proposed a “Debt Fail-Safe” trigger that would place a cap on debt as a
percent of GDP, instead of spending as a percent of GDP.  It would allow the use of both revenues
and spending to decrease the deficit and debt.   Which proposals (hopefully none of them)  will end up on the final debt ceiling
bill remains an open question but one thing is certain – this is a high stakes
battle for those who rely upon Medicaid for their health insurance.  

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