October 20, 2005

Senate Republicans agree on health cuts, aide

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Finance Republicans,
aiming to find $10 billion in savings, have reached a deal on
health care budget cuts and will release details on Thursday
afternoon, said an aide to committee chairman Sen. Charles

Senate conservatives had hoped to trim Medicaid, the joint
federal-state health program for the poor, by about $10 billion
over five years but moderates on the panel pushed for some of
the savings to come from Medicare, the federal health program
for the elderly.

The House is divided over its budget plans, with
conservatives pushing for deeper spending cuts. House
Republican leaders called off a vote on legislation they had
hoped to pass on Thursday.

House Acting Majority Leader Roy Blunt, a Missouri
Republican, said he was aiming to get a package of spending
reductions to the House floor some time next week.

This could include up to $50 billion in savings over five
years on mandatory programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, as
well as across the board spending cuts that have been debated
since Hurricane Katrina forced Congress to pass billions in
emergency spending.

Conservative and moderate Republicans so far have failed to
reach any agreement on spending cut details.

The Finance Committee announced it will take up the
legislation starting Monday. The Finance package is part of a
broader effort to achieve $35 billion in savings over five