CQ Discusses Medicare, SCHIP Legislation

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Medicare, SCHIP

Mary AgnesCarey, associate editor of CQ HealthBeat, examines a scaled-back Medicarebill being developed by the Senate Finance Committee, President Bush's secondveto of SCHIP legislation and Senate confirmation of the new Department of Veterans Affairs secretary in this week's "Health on theHill from kaisernetwork.org and CQ."

According to Carey, the House and Senate have not yet agreed on a Medicarepackage, but members of the Finance Committee are working on a scaled-backversion of the bill. The measure seeks to delay a scheduled 10% reduction inMedicare physician fees. The legislation likely will not include major cuts inMedicare Advantage plans; instead, the measure might tap into money from a"stabilization fund" included in the Medicare drug benefit to fundthe fee cut fix, Carey says. A long-term extension of SCHIP also could beincluded in the bill, according to Carey. A continuing resolution funding SCHIPexpires on Friday.

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Carey also discusses Bush's veto of legislation that would have reauthorizedand expanded SCHIP. Bush said that the bill is too expensive and that it willshift children who currently have private health coverage intogovernment-sponsored programs -- the same objections the president had to thefirst SCHIP bill. Carey says that a long-term extension of SCHIP, which will beincluded in Medicare legislation, is the likely outcome of the SCHIP debate.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has scheduled a veto override vote forJan. 23, 2008, just days before Bush is scheduled to deliver the State of theUnion address on Jan. 28, 2008. Carey also details the status of several fiscalyear 2008 appropriations bills.

Lastly, Carey discusses Veterans Affairs Secretary James Peake's goals for theagency, including improved treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. TheSenate confirmed Peake as VA secretary last week. Bush has said he expectsPeake to implement recommendations from a presidential commission led by formerSen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and former HHS Secretary Donna Shalala. Therecommendations call for an overhaul of the VA disability benefits system andimproved treatment of mental health disorders. According to Carey, the Senatealso recently took action on legislation that would expand programs and fundingfor treatment of traumatic brain injuries for veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq (Carey, "Health on theHill from kaisernetwork.org and CQ," 12/17).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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