Senators vent frustration over Katrina aid bill - Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Leaders of a Senate committee including its Republican head bluntly accused the Bush administration on Thursday of sabotaging a bill to provide Medicaid health assistance for victims of Hurricane Katrina

"Unfortunately, the White House is working against me behind the scenes, and I resent that, considering how I've delivered so much for the White House over the last five years," Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Charles Grassley (news, bio, voting record) said at a hearing on recovery efforts from the U.S. Gulf Coast hurricanes.

Grassley, of Iowa, has been a key ally of
President George W. Bush's proposal to overhaul the
Social Security retirement system at a time when other Republicans have been wary.

He and the committee's top Democrat, Montana Sen. Max Baucus (news, bio, voting record), are pushing a bill that would ease Medicaid eligibility requirements for storm victims for five months and provide states with reimbursement for 100 percent of costs for such patients.

Costs for Medicaid, the health care program for the poor, are normally split between Washington and the states.

The legislation would have cost the federal government as much as $9 billion, but Senate aides said the cost was cut to around $6 billion in negotiations with the White House and Republican leaders.

The administration says the Grassley-Baucus bill is still too expensive, too broad and may open the door for the government to pay costs for people who were not storm victims.

Asked about Grassley's criticism, White House spokesman Trent Duffy said, "The White House is working with the Congress to find the best way to get health care help to those affected by the storms."

Senators vent frustration over Katrina aid bill - Yahoo! News


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