California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

House Will Consider Raft of Health-Related Legislation This Week

Lawmakers this week return from a two-week recess and are scheduled to consider several health-related spending bills, CQ HealthBeat reports.

On Tuesday, the House is scheduled to consider legislation (HR 1213) that would repeal funding for state-based health insurance exchanges created under the federal health reform law. The chamber also will consider a bill (HR 1214) that would repeal funding for school-based health clinics (Jenks, CQ HealthBeat, 5/3).

According to the Washington Post, both measures are expected to pass the House with support from nearly all Republicans. However, the bills' chances are slim in the Democrat-controlled Senate (Pershing, Washington Post, 5/2).

On Wednesday, the House is scheduled to vote on legislation (HR 3) that would block federal funding for abortion services. The measure includes another bill (HR 1232) that would prohibit using tax benefits to cover abortions (CQ HealthBeat, 5/3). The legislation also would ban facilities or workers belonging to the federal or Washington, D.C., governments from offering abortion in its health care services.

In addition, House panels on Thursday will hold two hearings related to health care. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will testify before the House Appropriations Committee about HHS' policies and priorities. Meanwhile, members of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee are expected to discuss Medicare's sustainable growth rate formula (Zigmond, Modern Healthcare, 5/2).

Senate Unlikely To Consider GOP Budget Plan This Week

House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said the Senate this week "probably" will not consider his House-approved fiscal year 2012 budget resolution (H Con Res 34), which contains plans to overhaul Medicare and Medicaid (Wasson, The Hill, 5/2). The budget blueprint would privatize Medicare by providing beneficiaries with fixed, lump-sum vouchers to purchase private health insurance, and give states fixed annual block grants of $11,000 per Medicaid beneficiary to use as they choose.

The proposal aims to cut $6 trillion in federal spending over the next decade and repeal and defund the health reform law (California Healthline, 4/29).

Before the congressional recess, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) confirmed that he will schedule a preliminary floor vote on Ryan's plan, although the measure likely will fail in the Senate.

However, Reid did not provide an exact timeline for the vote. He noted that a vote would give Senate Republicans the opportunity to indicate whether "they like the Ryan budget [plan] as much as their House colleagues did." He also said that the vote is necessary to allow the debate to move toward a final budget compromise (California Healthline, 4/28).

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