CQ Discusses SCHIP Reauthorization, FDA Overhaul
Mary Agnes Carey, associate editor of CQ HealthBeat, discusses recent House and Senate actions, including SCHIP reauthorization legislation, a bill that would overhaul FDA,the nominee for the new U.S. surgeon general and legislation aimed atimproving veterans' health care benefits in this week's "Health on the Hill from kaisernetwork.org and CQ."
According to Carey, before Congress adjourned for the August recess, both the House and Senate approved measures to reauthorize and expand SCHIP. The program is set to expireon Sept. 30. The Senate bill would increase funding for the program by$35 billion over five years and would increase the federal cigarettetax by 61 cents per pack. The House version would increase funding forSCHIP by about $47 billion over five years and would increase thecigarette tax by 45 cents per pack. The House measure also would stop ascheduled cut in Medicare physician payments and reduce payments toMedicare Advantage plans by $157 million over the next 10 years.President Bush, who has proposed increasing SCHIP funding by $5 billionover five years, has said he will veto the House and Senate versionsbecause they are too large, according to Carey.
Carey also discusses legislationapproved by the House that would reauthorize FDA programs to review andapprove new drugs and medical devices. The bill includes stricter finesthan the Senate version of the bill for violations of new drug safetyregulations and tougher conflict-of-interest rules for individuals whoserve on FDA advisory panels. An "expected point of contention" duringconference negotiations is whether the legislation should grant FDA theauthority to approve generic versions of biotechnology drugs, Careysays.
In addition, Carey says that Bush's surgeon general nominee, James Holsinger, has met scrutiny from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.Holsinger has said that smoking cessation and fighting childhoodobesity would be central to his tenure as surgeon general if confirmed.
Finally, Carey discusses an omnibus health measure approvedby the House, which would increase care for homeless and low-incomeveterans and authorize a new grant program for therapeutic readjustmentcounseling for veterans who have served in conflicts after the 1991Persian Gulf War (Carey, "Health on the Hill from kaisernetwork.org andCQ," 8/13).
Reprinted with permission fromkaisernetwork.org.You can view the entire KaiserDaily Health Policy Report, search the archives, andsign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published forkaisernetwork.org,a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.