CQ Looks At Legislation To Block Medicaid Rules Implementation

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Mary AgnesCarey, associate editor of CQ HealthBeat, examines Senate approval of genetic nondiscrimination legislation,House passage of a measure to block implementation of new Medicaid rules andhearings about FDA's need for increased inspection resources inthis week's "Health on the Hill from kaisernetwork.org and CQ."

According to Carey, the Senate voted 95-0 to approve legislation that wouldprohibit employers and insurers from using any genetic screening test resultswhen making employment or coverage decisions. The House has approved adifferent version of the measure, but the chamber is expected to pass theSenate version, Carey says. President Bush is expected to sign the bill.

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Carey also discusses legislation approved by the House that would block for oneyear the implementation of several new Medicaid regulations proposed by theBush administration. The House passed the bill with enough votes to override apresidential veto. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has put themeasure on a fast-track process, which eliminates committee consideration andbrings the bill straight to the Senate floor. HHSSecretary Mike Leavitt has indicated that there likely will be opposition tothe measure in the Senate, and some Senate Republicans have voiced support forthe Medicaid rules.

Lastly, Carey discusses House and Senate committee hearings about FDA effortsto protect the nation's drug supply. At the hearings, lawmakers asked FDAofficials how much additional federal funding the agency needs to increaseoverseas drug inspections. Carey says FDA officials made the case that abroader overhaul of the agency's efforts to track and inspect internationalproduction of drugs was just as necessary as increasing the number of FDAinspectors abroad. They also stressed that drug makers should be held moreresponsible for the quality of the ingredients manufactured overseas and thatFDA needs to have a comprehensive database of those manufacturers to help trackpossible problems. Carey adds that debate over this issue likely will continuefor much of this year.

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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