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CQ Discusses Health Reform Efforts In Congress

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Mary Agnes Carey, associate editor of CQ HealthBeat, examines expected health care inclusions in an economic stimulus package, the nomination of former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) as HHS secretary, and Sen. Max Baucus' (D-Mont.) health care overhaul legislation in this week's "Health on the Hill from kaisernetwork.org and CQ."

Carey says that funding for Medicaid, health information technology and SCHIP are likely candidates for the stimulus package that Congress is expected to consider early next year. Baucus supports a short-term extension of SCHIP in the stimulus followed by a discussion about longer-term reauthorization of the program as part of a broader effort to overhaul the health care system, according to Carey. Other lawmakers have discussed including a long-term reauthorization of SCHIP in the stimulus plan. Other possible provisions include an expansion of COBRA insurance and subsidies to help people pay for COBRA coverage, Carey says.

Carey also discusses the nomination of Daschle as HHS secretary and director of a new White House Office of Health Reform. According to Carey, Daschle will be joined by Jeanne Lambrew, who "was a top health policy adviser to President Bill Clinton." Daschle has said that reducing health care costs and improving quality are linked to the nation's economic recovery. In addition, Carey says that Daschle has indicated that the incoming Obama administration likely will not send its own health care legislation to Capitol Hill, but rather it will work with Congress on the specifics of an overhaul.

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Lastly, Carey discusses health care legislation in the 111th Congress. She says that although the stimulus package "is sure to get top priority, ... Congress may turn quickly to health reform." Baucus said he will be ready with a health care overhaul bill near the start of the new year.

In addition, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) recently announced that he would leave his post on the Senate Judiciary Committee to focus on health care reform and collaborate with the Obama administration.

According to Carey, "In the House, the chairs of key committees with jurisdiction on health have said they want to wait and take their cues from Obama regarding health reform," but California Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman, who will head the Energy and Commerce Committee next year, and Pete Stark, chair of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, have "extensive experience in health care legislation" and want "comprehensive reform of the current system" (Carey, "Health on the Hill From Kaisernetwork.org and CQ," 12/15).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.