HHS APPROPRIATIONS: ‘Extra’ CHIP Funds, Tobacco Tax in Mix
The House is expected to mark up its version of the Labor-HHS appropriations bill today, and among the provisions expected to help cover next years' costs are "rescinding unobligated FY2000 state grant money from the Children's Health Insurance Program," CongressDaily reports. A Democratic long-shot for a funding boost is Clinton's proposed tobacco tax hike. House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-MO) and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) "renewed the push" yesterday. Daschle said, "Either we use Social Security funding (to pay for government programs), or a tobacco tax. I'll settle for the tobacco tax any day." Daschle extolled the virtues of the tobacco tax for its likelihood of discouraging smoking and improving children's health. The bill will be marked up at $89 billion budget, $85 billion outlays, as opposed to the earlier $73 billion budget, $75 billion outlays (Earle/Caruso, 9/22).
Where We Stand
The Washington Post today puts the debate in context: "With only a week to go before a new fiscal year begins, the Republican-controlled Congress remains deadlocked over most major spending bills, and its leaders are preparing legislation to avert a politically disastrous government shutdown." Although Speaker Hastert is "determined" to adjourn the session by October 29, Rep. David Obey (D-WI), ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, "warned that the budget troubles are so severe that 'we'll be here past Thanksgiving, past Christmas' to finish up." Only the four "least controversial" bills have been sent on to Clinton, leaving nine of the 13 to be resolved by the Oct. 1 fiscal year deadline. The Post reports that "all sides agree" that replay of the 1995 government shutdown is an unacceptable and unlikely scenario. In his likely veto of the GOP tax cut bill today, President Clinton is expected to "increase pressure on Congress to steer more money to Medicare ... and other administration priorities," White House aides said (Pianin/Eilperin, 9/23).
CHIP: Back to School
HHS Secretary Donna Shalala, Attorney General Janet Reno and Education Secretary Richard Riley yesterday launched a "Back-to-School" campaign aimed at raising awareness and enrolling children nationwide in CHIP and Medicaid this fall. The campaign will be accompanied by a $1 million radio announcement blitz to promote regional enrollment campaigns between now and Oct. 2. The campaign will include 45 locally-based outreach events in partnership with schools, hospitals, community health centers, other charitable organizations and media outlets. (HCFA release, 9/22).