House Approves War Spending Bill With Funds for Health Care
The House on Wednesday voted 218-208 to approve the final version of a $124.2 billion supplemental appropriations bill for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan that includes funds for a number of health care programs, with the Senate expected to approve the legislation on Thursday, CongressDaily reports (Cohn et al., CongressDaily, 4/26).
The bill would provide $650 million to address expected budget deficits for SCHIP in 14 states. In addition, the legislation would provide $3.3 billion for Department of Defense health care programs, with $20 million allocated to address problems with facilities at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and $900 million allocated for brain trauma injury and post traumatic stress disorder research and treatment.
The bill would provide $50 million to screen rescue and recovery workers who responded to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and to treat medical conditions that they develop because of exposure to toxins released into the atmosphere by the attacks.
The legislation would provide $625 million to HHS to purchase antiviral medications and vaccines and to invest in technology to accelerate production of vaccines to help prepare for a potential flu pandemic. In addition, the bill would provide $25 million for a fund established as part of the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act to compensate individuals injured by vaccines developed in preparation for a potential flu pandemic.
The legislation also would transfer $99 million from NIH to the office of the HHS secretary to fund research on products to protect against potential bioterrorist attacks.
The bill would delay for one year a rule proposed by CMS that would have reduced Medicaid reimbursements to health care providers operated by local governments by an estimated $4 billion over five years.
The legislation includes a provision that would require states in which Medicaid providers use written prescription pads to use tamper-resistant pads -- a measure that would reduce the number of fraudulent prescriptions -- to help offset the cost of the delay.
In addition, the bill includes a provision that would allow Wisconsin to continue to operate SeniorCare, a prescription drug program for low-income seniors, until Dec. 31, 2009 (Carey/Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 4/25).