Senate GOPs Tested On Medicaid Rules

Senate Republicans are facing a test that pits the Bush administration and conservative principles of small government against their home states. Right now, the conservative principles appear poised for a defeat.

The House supplemental war appropriations bill includes a moratorium on the implementation of new Medicaid rules. Proposed by the administration, they could save the federal government billions in Medicaid reimbursements to states. But they may never be implemented.

In the Senate, Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) plans to include the moratorium as part of the supplemental - despite a concerted effort to block it.

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona and other conservative Republicans have been working hard behind the scenes to keep the moratorium out of the supplemental. Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa requested in a letter last week to Byrd and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), not to do so.

Another letter opposing the moratorium, addressed to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), has been circulated by Kyl since the House version of the moratorium passed last month, 349 to 62. But aides on both sides say the letter died for lack of support.
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