Bush Signs War Spending Bill With Health Care Funds
President Bush on Friday signed a $120 billion fiscal year 2007 supplemental appropriations bill (HR 2206) for military operations in Iraq that also includes funding for nonmilitary programs, such as the State Children's Health Insurance Program, the AP/New York Post reports (Flaherty, AP/New York Post, 5/26).
The House and Senate on Thursday approved the legislation, which includes $97.8 billion requested by Bush for military operations and $22.2 billion proposed by Democrats for nonmilitary programs.
The bill includes:
- $650 million for SCHIP (California Healthline, 5/25);
- $1.9 billion for military health care;
- $1.8 billion to help reduce a backlog of health care claims for veterans who return from Iraq and Afghanistan (Schoof, McClatchy/Miami Herald, 5/26);
- A two-year extension of federal funds for SeniorCare, a Wisconsin prescription drug program for low-income seniors (California Healthline, 5/25);
- A one-year delay of a rule proposed by CMS under which state Medicaid reimbursements to health care providers operated by local governments could not have exceeded actual costs that would have saved the program $3.8 billion over five years; and
- A one-year delay of a rule proposed by CMS that would have reduced federal Medicaid reimbursements for graduate medical education and saved the program $1.8 billion over five years.
The one-year delays of the rules "drew praise from hospital groups," CQ HealthBeat reports.
American Hospital Association Executive Vice President Rick Pollack said, "We applaud congressional leadership for recognizing that harsh spending cuts will not solve Medicaid's problems."
National Association of Children's Hospitals President Lawrence McAndrews in a statement added, "Any change in Medicaid funding can have a dramatic impact on children's hospitals."
However, CMS on Friday informed Congress of plans to publish a final version of one of the rules in the Federal Register on May 29.
Jeff Nelligan, director of media affairs for CMS, said, "We intend to comply with the statute" and delay enforcement of the rule for one year. He added, "In the interests of transparency, we wanted interested parties and the public to see the decisions that we made in responding to public comments on the proposed rule. This way, the public ... will also see that we are still soliciting comments on the provisions of the rule related to the definition of governmental entities." (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 5/25).
The fiscal year 2008 budget resolution approved by Congress earlier this month places congressional committees "in good shape to move forward responsibly on many of the nation's pressing needs," such as health care, a New York Times editorial states (New York Times, 5/26).
The Senate voted 52-40 to adopt a final $2.9 trillion fiscal year 2008 budget resolution, which includes an additional $50 billion for an expansion of SCHIP, after the House voted 214-209 to approve the budget resolution. The budget resolution includes 23 "reserve funds" to provide additional funds for SCHIP, health care for veterans and other domestic programs.
In addition, the budget resolution would restore pay-as-you-go rules last in effect in 2001 that would prohibit tax reductions or spending increases to entitlement programs without offsets in other areas in the budget (California Healthline, 5/18).
No "sooner did Congress announce a budget agreement then the White House threatened to veto spending that exceeds levels suggested by President Bush last February," the editorial states.
"In threatening the veto, the White House has tried to portray itself as fiscally prudent and Congress as spendthrift," the editorial states, adding, "The real difference is between an administration willing to starve basic government services -- in favor of tax cuts and financing a disastrous war -- and a Congress that is trying, within means, to run a responsive government" (New York Times, 5/26).
PBS' "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" on Monday reported on debate about the reauthorization of SCHIP.
The segment includes comments from Rev. Rayfield Burns of the Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church; Rev. Kim Ross of One Spirit Methodist Church; Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.); HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt; Beth Griffin, executive director of Citizens for Missouri's Children; Steve Renne, an official with the Missouri Department of Social Services; and parents of children enrolled in SCHIP in Missouri (Dentzer, "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," PBS, 5/28).
Audio of the segment is available online. Video and a transcript of the segment will be available Tuesday afternoon.