Bush Signs Labor-HHS, DOD Appropriations Bills
President Bush on Friday signed into law the Department of Defense appropriations bill (HR 2863) that includes $3.8 billion to prepare for a possible avian flu pandemic, and he also signed the Labor-HHS appropriations bill (HR 3010), the AP/St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports (AP/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1/1).
The Labor-HHS bill increases funding by more than $105 billion over the FY 2005 Labor-HHS appropriations measure. The 21% increase results primarily from additional funding for mandatory programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. The bill earmarks $28.6 billion in funding for NIH, a 1% increase over FY 2005 funding levels.
The $453.5 billion DOD bill provides liability protections for vaccine makers, including those who manufacturer flu vaccines. The bill also includes $2 billion for some states to cover health costs for low-income hurricane survivors, including offsetting higher Medicaid costs and compensating private hospitals that have treated more uninsured patients as a result of Hurricane Katrina (California Healthline, 12/22/2005).
Bush also signed a bill (HR 4579) that extends current law provisions prohibiting health insurers from imposing greater limits on mental health coverage than for other conditions (Angle, CQ Today, 12/30/05).