Health Care Legislation a Priority for Democrats in Congress This Year
Democratic lawmakers hope to pass an economic stimulus package, as well as legislation that would reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program and expand federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, in the first few weeks of the new Congress, the Washington Times reports.
"Even if it completes those tasks, Congress will have its plate piled high with Democrats' campaign promises for sweeping changes to everything from the health care system to how the country generates and uses energy," the Times reports.
According to the Times, Democratic lawmakers seek to pass legislation that would expand health insurance to all residents and establish a national electronic health record system (Miller, Washington Times, 1/5).
On Monday, President-elect Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) discussed the possibility that Congress by Inauguration Day could complete work on a stand-alone bill to reauthorize SCHIP, CongressDaily reports.
According to CongressDaily, the legislation "would likely be an easy, early legislative win" for Democrats.
However, Senate Democrats might seek to add the legislation to an economic stimulus package.
Several health care lobbyists "view the measure's inclusion in a stimulus package as a bad move that will engulf children's health insurance in the massive bill," but the "benefit of wrapping SCHIP into the stimulus bill lies in how it would be paid for," as provisions in the stimulus package likely will "be exempted from pay/go rules," CongressDaily reports.
Passage of legislation to reauthorize SCHIP "unfunded frees up money that could be spent on universal health care legislation that is expected to include an overhaul of the health care system that could cost several hundred billion dollars," according to CongressDaily (Edney, CongressDaily, 1/6).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.