House Rejects Bill To Cut Medicare Funds, Extend Retraining Program
On Friday, the House voted 126-302 to reject a measure that would have cut Medicare funding to extend a program to help retrain workers, the Chicago Tribune reports (Mascaro/Lee, Chicago Tribune, 6/12).
The bill would have cut $950 million from Medicare in order to extend the training program, which is set to expire at the end of September. A group of House Democrats who objected to cutting Medicare spending pressed lawmakers to oppose the cuts, arguing that the program should either be replaced or left to expire. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) last week said, "Medicare is not an ATM machine to be used by Republicans in the House or Senate looking for an offset" (Zanona, CQ News, 6/8).
The measure is part of a package that would give President Obama fast-track authority to approve trade agreements. The House voted to 219-211 to approve the trade agreement authority measure. However, because the Senate approved both measures as one bill and the House voted on them separately and rejected one, the legislation cannot yet advance to Obama.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in negotiations last week agreed to find an alternative source of funding for the retraining program (Chicago Tribune, 6/12). According to Politico, House Republicans could reconsider the trade bill this week (French/Sherman, Politico, 6/15).
Hillary Clinton Calls for Drug Discounts Under Trade Deal
In related news, Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed a portion of the trade legislation that could help drugmakers boost foreign sales, Reuters reports.
In a speech made this past weekend, Clinton said that such drugmakers should be required to offer bulk discounts to government programs in the U.S., such as Medicare.
She said, "Our drug companies, if they are going to get what they want, they should give more to America" (Wise, Reuters, 6/14).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.