June 16 Update The Senate Finance Committee released details of the modification. Summary of Modifications and Additions
A procedural vote in the Senate halted a bill (HR 4213) extending federal benefits to help states pay for Medicaid, to continue Medicare physician reimbursements through 2011, and to extend COBRA for people unemployed during the recession. The 45-52 vote fell short of the 60 needed to move the measure called FMAP (Federal Medical Assistance Percentages) and weighs heavily on the states' governors.
Those voting against the extensions said they were concerned about increasing the deficit by $78.7 billion, and were looking for an off-set to pay for the spending. By early evening, finance chairman Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont) revised the bill allowing the physician payment adjustment for six months instead of 19. The revision also cut $25 from unemployment insurance that was part of the federal stimulus passed last year, and recommended adjusting the ratio of capital gains taxes on investment fund managers.
Advocacy organizations responded immediately to the announcements today. NAMI said it was "penny wise and pound foolish;" Mental Health America sent out a "take action" email. Sates and non-partisan think tanks are worried about vulnerable people whose resources have already been stretched tight during the recession, exacerbating a situation in which job loss and poor health often go together.