Lawmakers To Address Unfinished Medicare, SCHIP
Lawmakers are planning toaddress Medicare, SCHIP and Medicaid policy changes they had hoped to make lastyear in new legislation that would stop a 10% cut to Medicare physician feesscheduled to take effect June 30, CongressDaily reports. Accordingto CongressDaily, "With health care emerging as a top issuewith voters, the election year might put increased pressure on lawmakers topresent at least a few new health policies," although some proposals coulddraw veto threats.
Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) andranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) "want to explore Medicare changesthat did not make it into last year's physician pay fix bill because time ranout," CongressDaily reports. Those changes include measuressupported by the Bush administration, such as health information technologyrequirements and proposals on mental health parity and geneticnondiscrimination. Committee members also might try to rewrite rules regardingMedicare Advantage plan marketing after the Bush administration last yearrejected a proposal that would have given states more flexibility in regulatingthe plans.
In addition, lawmakers are "likely to respond to the administration'slatest attempts to stop states from expanding Medicaid eligibility" beyond250% of the federal poverty level, CongressDaily reports. A Baucusaide said the senator is planning to closely watch HHS thisyear to make sure its actions are consistent with the law.
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), who negotiated SCHIP legislation that PresidentBush vetoed twice, said she hoped the Bush administration would be more willingto work with Congress this session. She said, "The administration hasfailed to recognize the way to achieve results for uninsured children isthrough building legislative consensus, not executive fiat" (Johnson, CongressDaily,1/10).
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