Congress Approves Continuing Resolution Likely To Include Finds To Maintain Medicare Assistance Program
Congress on Wednesday approved a stopgap continuing resolution (H J Res 107) to fund government agencies at fiscal year 2004 levels through Nov. 20, CongressDaily reports (Cohn, CongressDaily, 9/30). CongressDaily reported Wednesday that the continuing resolution was expected to include funding for a program set to expire Thursday that helps low-income Medicare beneficiaries pay their Part B premiums. Medicare Part B covers physician services, outpatient hospital care, some home health services and durable medical equipment (Rovner, CongressDaily, 9/29).
Under the QI-1 program, the federal government pays Part B premiums for beneficiaries whose annual incomes are between 120% and 135% of the federal poverty level (California Healthline, 10/2/03). The program, which covers about 156,000 Medicare beneficiaries, was created under the 1997 Balanced Budget Act.
Funding for the program has been extended twice, one time through a continuing resolution and a second time in the new Medicare law, but the program is set to expire Sept. 30 (Heil, CongressDaily, 9/27).
In related news, 16 Republicans in the House were given Teddy Roosevelt Awards on Wednesday for their work promoting the Medicare bill, according to CongressDaily. The awards, created by House Republican Conference Vice Chair Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), went to members who hosted Medicare workshops in congressional districts, visited hospitals and nursing homes to discuss the law's benefits with Medicare beneficiaries, wrote opinion pieces in local newspapers and used floor time in the House to praise the bill.
In total, the 16 members conducted 130 Medicare workshops, held 10 one-minute speeches on the House floor and sent out 24 mailings (CongressDaily, 9/30).