- Policy & Research
- About KHI
May 26, 2011
As expected, the U.S. Senate on Wednesday rejected the U.S. House-approved budget plan, which contained controversial provisions to overhaul Medicare and Medicaid.
Kansas Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran were not among the five Republicans who joined the Democratic majority to defeat the bill, 57-40.
Roberts was one of three senators who did not vote. A spokeswoman said Roberts was traveling to his mother-in-law’s funeral in South Carolina on Wednesday. A statement released by his office declined to say how he would have voted had he been present:
"I support the House-passed budget’s goal of reducing the national debt by $4.4 trillion over the next ten years, and I would have liked to have an opportunity to debate and amend this budget proposal to address additional issues," Roberts said in the statement.
Moran voted for the bill authored by Congressman Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican and chairman of the House budget committee. The House approved the bill, last month, 235-189, with every Democrat and four Republicans voting "no."
Moran wasn't immediately available to explain his vote.
The Ryan budget plan — which, by various estimates, would have cut spending by between $4.4 and $6.2 trillion over 10 years — called for dramatic overhauls of Medicare and Medicaid.
Medicare currently provides health coverage for all those ages 65 and older. But under the plan, those who retired after 2021 would receive subsidies to help buy private health insurance.
Critics have said the plan would simply shift costs to seniors, requiring them to pay thousands of dollars more a year for health care.
The bill also would have converted Medicaid to a block grant program, something critics predicted would shift costs to states and to the poor.
All four House members from Kansas are Republicans and each voted for the bill.
Congressman Kevin Yoder, who represents the state's 3rd District, said he supported the bill because it would reduce the deficit without raising taxes and help create jobs.
The other Kansas congressmen are Lynn Jenkins, Mike Pompeo and Tim Huelskamp. They offered similar explanations.
"This budget, by creating some austerity in Washington, by sending a signal to taxpayers and businesses that we're serious about spending is very important. Getting this budget under control is important for the economic future of our country," Yoder told GardnerEDGE.com shortly after the House vote.
"Entitlement reform is something I think Americans still need to learn a lot about. One of the biggest cost drivers in our budget is Medicare, along with Medicaid and Social Security," he said. "These are problems that have to be fixed."
Observers have said some Republicans may begin to change their approach to Medicare reform as the 2012 election approaches. Tuesday a Democrat won a special election for a New York House seat in a historically Republican district. Winner Kathy Hochul had campaigned against the GOP budget and Medicare overhaul proposal.