Congress May Not Pass Patients’ Rights Bill This Year
Although a "political truce" has "reigned" in Congress in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Los Angeles Times reports that bipartisanship "eventually will fizzle," with Congress set to address "more divisive issues," such as health care legislation (Hook, Los Angeles Times, 9/24). The Washington Post reports that Congress this year will likely "jettison" many issues, including a Medicare prescription drug benefit for seniors, to avoid "partisan debates." However, President Bush has urged lawmakers to pass a patients' rights bill, and House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) said that lawmakers may pass legislation this year (Broder, Washington Post, 9/24). On NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said that lawmakers "should be able to come together" on a patients' bill of rights and "[g]et that done" ("Meet the Press" transcript, NBC, 9/23). Still, although differences between bills passed in the House and Senate "are relatively small," the Post reports that Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-Ga.) is "reportedly of the view" that "unless there are clear signals from both parties of willingness to compromise, convening a formal House-Senate conference in the remaining weeks of this session would be futile" (Washington Post, 9/24). Congressional leaders from both parties have said that patients' rights "may have to wait" in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks (Masterson, Houston Chronicle, 9/23).
Congress also must pass a number of appropriations bills for FY 2002, which begins Oct. 1 (Kuhnhenn, Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/24). According to the Times, lawmakers have yet to pass any of the 13 appropriations bills to fund the federal government in FY 2002. The House and Senate plan to pass temporary spending bills to fund the government through mid-October to allow lawmakers to conduct final budget negotiations (Los Angeles Times, 9/24). Congressional leaders "appeared confident" that lawmakers would pass the 13 appropriations bills by Oct. 15 -- a "major feat by any standards, if it happens," the Chronicle reports (Houston Chronicle, 9/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.