California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Senate Passes Food Safety Bill; Changes to Tax-Reporting Rules Fail

On Tuesday, the Senate voted 73-25 to approve a bill (S 510) that would overhaul the U.S. food safety system, the New York Times reports.

The bill would authorize increased government authority and involvement in food-related recalls and processing plant inspections. FDA would have greater enforcement powers in monitoring the national food supply.

Although the bill garnered bipartisan support and has the support of the Obama administration, it might not pass Congress because there is little time left in the current session for House/Senate negotiations. However, House Democratic leaders have said they might consider passing the Senate version to hasten approval (Harris/Neuman, New York Times, 11/30).

Senate Votes Down Two 1099 Repeal Amendments

During a cloture vote on the food safety bill on Monday, the Senate voted down a pair of amendments that would have repealed the 1099 tax-reporting provision in the federal health reform law, the Times reports (Hulse, New York Times, 11/29).

The reporting mandate -- scheduled to take effect in 2012 -- requires businesses, not-for-profit groups and government offices to file 1099 forms with the Internal Revenue Service when they purchase $600 or more in goods or services from another business in a given year. The law previously required 1099 forms only for services above that amount.

The mandate in recent months has drawn strong criticism from Democrats and Republicans, the business community and even the White House (California Healthline, 9/20).

Lawmakers considered both a Democratic and a Republican proposal for repeal but were unable to secure the necessary 67 votes for passage (New York Times, 11/29). The first amendment -- proposed by Rep. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) -- would have paid for the repeal with spending cuts. The other, proposed by Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.), did not include cost offsets (Gardner/Lesniewski, CQ Today, 11/29). Johanns' amendment was defeated 61-35, while Baucus' plan fell short 44-53.

Despite the failure of both amendments, Senate officials said they expected to vote again soon on repealing the 1099 provision because the effort has bipartisan support (New York Times, 11/29).

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