[Congressional Record Volume 141, Number 207 (Friday, December 22, 1995)]
[Pages S19184-S19185]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                          FUNDING FOR MEDICAID

  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I hold in my hand today a letter to 
President Clinton that is signed by all 46 members of the Democratic 
Caucus. This 

[[Page S19185]]
letter urges him to hold firm to our commitment to basic health care 
for children, pregnant women, the elderly, and the disabled in this 
country. This letter supports a per capita cap approach to finding 
savings in the Medicaid Program.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have that letter printed in 
the Record at the end of my statement.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection? Without objection, it is 
so ordered.
  (See exhibit 1)
  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, this letter shows unity and 
it demonstrates support for President Clinton in his negotiations on 
this vital matter. As you heard the eloquent Senator from West Virginia 
describe yesterday, sometimes we have to look beyond partisanship and 
do what needs doing as Americans. As you heard our respected colleague 
say, we need to look beyond partisanship, toward compromise if we want 
to succeed in creating a balanced budget.

  This letter is partisan in that it is signed by all Democrats. But it 
is my feeling that as Americans every Member of the Senate should have 
an opportunity to endorse the position described in this document. As 
Americans we all must do our very best for our children in this Nation, 
and that is what this letter is about.
  As the Senators from Nebraska and North Dakota discussed yesterday 
with the release of the Senate Democratic budget, we can balance the 
budget in 7 years using the most conservative CBO estimates without 
hurting our children.
  This letter I hold in my hand reflects just one part of that 
commitment. I do not think my colleagues across the aisle are 
advocating the block grants so that we will intentionally hurt children 
in this country. I will simply tell you the reaction of people at the 
State and local level who actually provide Medicaid services to 
children is overwhelmingly negative.
  They can see from the grassroots level what it will mean to design a 
Medicaid program, and they do not want drastic funding cuts, and they 
do not want a block grant, because it fundamentally will not work.
  Groups representing almost every decisionmaker and provider in this 
country have come out against the Medicaid block grant proposal. The 
Conference of Mayors, the National Association of County Officials, the 
National Conference of State Legislatures, the Democratic Governors 
Association, the American Hospital Association, and most other medical 
provider organizations, and all child advocacy groups, all have rallied 
in opposition to this bad idea.

  I heard yesterday from Mayor Norm Rice of Seattle and the Mayors 
Association, who are sending a letter of their own to the President. 
The block grant has been condemned by anyone who has thought about how 
it will affect this country's children and other vulnerable 
populations. Tonight there will be a child within a few blocks from 
this building who will need the help of a caring health care 
professional, and Medicaid will pay for the care.
  Marion Wright Edelman uses a phrase that sums up what we are talking 
about when it comes to Medicaid and children, ``protection of last 
resort.'' We have to guarantee that protection. It is a moral 
commitment, and it is within our grasp. We can balance the budget but 
we can do it without giving in to mindless partisanship and we can do 
it without sacrificing our basic commitments.

                               Exhibit 1

                                                  U.S. Senate,

                                 Washington DC, December 13, 1995.
     President William J. Clinton,
     The White House,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Mr. President: We are writing to express our strong 
     support for the Medicaid per-capita cap structure in your 
     seven-year budget. We have fought against Medicaid block 
     grants and cuts in the Senate, and we are glad you 
     acknowledge the importance of our position.
       We support a balanced budget. We are glad you agree with us 
     that we can balance the budget without undermining the health 
     of children, pregnant women, the disabled, and the elderly.
       The savings level of $54 billion over seven years included 
     in your budget will require rigorous efficiencies and 
     economies in the program. However, after consulting with many 
     Medicaid Directors and service providers across the country, 
     we believe a reduction of this level is possible to achieve 
     without dramatic limits on eligibility or cuts to essential 
     services. States will need flexibility to achieve these 
     savings, and you have taken steps toward granting it in your 
       We were encouraged that your Medicaid proposal does not pit 
     Medicaid populations against one another in a fight over a 
     limited pot of federal resources.
       We were further encouraged to hear Chief of Staff Panetta 
     relay your commitment to veto any budget not containing a 
     fundamental guarantee to Medicaid for eligible Americans.
       We commend you on the courage you have exercised in making 
     these commitments to Americans eligible for Medicaid. There 
     is a bottom line when it comes to people's health; do not 
     allow the current Congressional leadership to further reduce 
     our commitment to Medicaid beneficiaries.
       Your current proposal is fair and reasonable, and is 
     consistent with what we have advocated on the Senate floor. 
     We urge you in the strongest possible terms to hold fast to 
     these commitments in further negotiations. We are prepared to 
     offer any assistance you may need in this regard.
         Bob Graham; John Breaux; Jay Rockefeller; Herb Kohl; 
           Patrick Leahy; Frank R. Lautenberg; Ted Kennedy; Tom 
           Daschle; Patty Murray; Barbara Boxer; David Pryor; 
           Barbara A. Mikulski; Max Baucus; Paul Simon; Kent 
           Conrad; Wendell Ford; Harry Reid; Paul Wellstone; 
           Richard H. Bryan; Ernest Hollings; Dianne Feinstein; 
           Tom Harkin; Byron L. Dorgan; Chris Dodd; J. Bennett 
           Johnston; Joe Lieberman; Paul Sarbanes; Carol Mosely-
           Braun; John Glenn; Jeff Bingaman; Carl Levin; Bill 
           Bradley; John F. Kerry; Bob Kerrey; Joe Biden; Daniel 
           K. Akaka; Dale Bumpers; Daniel Inouye; Chuck Robb; J. 
           James Exon; Howell Heflin; Claiborne Pell; Russ 
           Feingold; Daniel P. Moynihan; Sam Nunn; Robert C. Byrd.

  Mr. FEINGOLD addressed the Chair.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wisconsin.
  Mr. FEINGOLD. Thank you, Mr. President.