Keeping Medicaid from automatic cuts was a priority of the Obama administration in the final, ugly days of the debt ceiling fight. It was the one major concession the President and the Democrats won in the whole nasty sausage-making exercise.
Politico did a great job telling how the deal was done, and the tense moment when Obama staffers threw down the gauntlet:
[T]he atmosphere was tense as the hours slipped toward the deadline. By Saturday night, discussions over the trigger had bogged down, and a call between [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell’s staff and senior White House aides turned heated when GOP negotiators demanded that Medicaid be added to the mix of programs that could face cuts.
Gene Sperling, chairman of Obama’s National Economic Council, was in mid-sentence, trying to calmly explain why the White House wouldn’t allow that, when Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew interrupted.
“No!” the typically mild-mannered Lew yelled. “The answer is simply no! No, no!”
In earlier plans passed by House Republicans, Medicaid had been subject to automatic cuts. At least the Dems won one for the little guy.