What: All Issues : Aid to Less Advantaged People, at Home & Abroad : America's Poor : S Con Res 21. (Fiscal 2008 budget resolution), Bunning of Kentucky amendment on allowing states to design their own Medicaid benefit packages/On agreeing to the amendment (2007 senate Roll Call 111)
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S Con Res 21. (Fiscal 2008 budget resolution), Bunning of Kentucky amendment on allowing states to design their own Medicaid benefit packages/On agreeing to the amendment
senate Roll Call 111     Mar 23, 2007
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win
Qualifies as polarizing?
Yes
Is this vote crucial?
No

This vote occurred on an amendment by Jim Bunning, R-Ky., that would have allowed states to design their own Medicaid benefit packages based on citizens' unique needs. Bunning argued that it would provide states needed flexibility in administering Medicaid.

"A vote for my amendment supports allowing states to designate benefits that fit the specific needs of their state and population. A vote against it is support of a one-size-fits-all model for Medicaid," Bunning said.

The amendment was offered to the budget resolution that serves as the blueprint for Congress' budget priorities in fiscal 2008. The budget resolution sets overall spending targets for the Appropriations committees and outlines other budget rules.

Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said Bunning's amendment would undermine the basic nature of Medicaid, which is to provide "medically necessary services." Baucus said the amendment's effect would be to lower health care coverage for low-income children.

"Why do states want more flexibility, especially with respect to this program? So basically they can lower benefits. They can save money. There has been a longstanding principle under Medicaid that Medicaid should provide medically necessary services, such as immunizations or checkups, to low-income kids, and that is the basis. We have to keep it. The effect of this amendment is to undermine that. If we stand for anything here, it is making sure low-income kids do not have less health care benefits, at least," Baucus said.

Bunning countered that his amendment would specify that Medicaid's mandatory coverage benefits for children could not be altered, however.

The amendment was voted down, 44-55. Most Republicans voted for the amendment, with the exception of five. All Democrats voted against the amendment. Thus, the budget resolution went forward without language that would have allowed states more flexibility in designing their own Medicaid benefit plans.

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