CANCER & MEDICAID: Lawmakers Joust to Take Credit
President Clinton's announcement Saturday that he was including $220 million in his budget to extend Medicaid to low-income women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer spurred some "jousting for credit" on Capitol Hill, CongressDaily/A.M. reports. During his radio address, Clinton referred to legislation introduced in the House by Reps. Rick Lazio (R-N.Y.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and in the Senate by the late Sen. John Chafee (R-R.I.) and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), but "made it appear as if the initiative were coming from the White House." Following the address, House Republican Conference Chair J.C. Watts (Okla.) said, "The House is poised to take action" on the bill, to the surprise of many of the bill's backers.
The measure did pass the House Commerce Committee last fall, but only after considerable wrangling over costs and Rep. Tom Coburn's (R-Okla.) insistence that the bill include a provision requiring an HPV warning label on condom packages. Supporters of the bill were still looking for ways to offset the costs. However, Watts said, "We will find a way to pay for it that also allows us to save Social Security and Medicare and pay down the national debt." Lazio, who last year complained about the administration's lack of effort in finding funding offsets, praised Clinton's support of the measure. In a statement, he said, "The single most constructive thing the administration can do is help us find acceptable way to pay for [the program]" (Rovner, 2/8).