House Leaders Want Medicare Provisions
House leaders on Wednesday reaffirmed their commitment to retaining portions of House SCHIP reauthorization legislation (HR 3162) that would make revisions to Medicare, CongressDaily reports (Johnson/Bourge, CongressDaily, 9/6).
SCHIPlegislation approved by the House would reduce payments to MedicareAdvantage plans and increase the federal cigarette tax by 45 cents perpack to increase funding for SCHIP by about $50 billion over fiveyears. The bill also would make a number of revisions to Medicare. TheSenate version (S 1893)would reauthorize SCHIP and increase the federal cigarette tax by 61cents per pack to boost funding for the program by $35 billion overfive years. President Bush has proposed a $5 billion increase over fiveyears for SCHIP, which would raise the program's total five-yearfunding to $30 billion. Bush has said he would veto the House andSenate bills (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 8/21).
House Ways and Means CommitteeChair Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) said, "We feel very strongly that we wantto keep the package together with Medicare reform." Rangel added that House Energy and Commerce CommitteeChair John Dingell (D-Mich.) is in agreement. House Majority LeaderSteny Hoyer (D-Md.) said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) willspeak to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and "stress" theneed to keep the Medicare provisions in a conference report. He addedthat the House "feels very strongly that the package works together fora lot of objectives that we all should be able to agree on. We workedvery hard on a lot of component parts that all work together."
House Energy and Commerce Health SubcommitteeChair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) said, "The two most important pieces ofthis bill are SCHIP" and a provision that would reverse a scheduled 10%cut in Medicare physician reimbursements, and it "seems to me to makesense to address it together." He added, "Everyone agrees we need to dothe doctors' fix. Why not do it now?" However, Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has said he would like to address Medicare reform separately from SCHIP (CongressDaily, 9/6).
Baucus on Wednesday said he is not ready to consider an extension forSCHIP and would prefer to have differences resolved in conferencecommittee prior to the program's Sept. 30 expiration date, CongressDaily reports.
Baucussaid he has begun informal talks with Senate Finance CommitteeRepublicans and members of the House Ways and Means Committee. Baucussaid, "I want to get the bill done. I think it's important to get itdone. We'll just find a way to do it." Meanwhile, Hoyer on Wednesdayacknowledged that an extension is a possibility (Johnson, CongressDaily, 9/5).
CongressDaily reports that a temporary extension could include language "to stay new administrative guidelines limiting states' ability to cover children in families" with incomes greater than 250% of the federal poverty level (CongressDaily, 9/6).
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