House, Senate Pass Fiscal Year 2003 Supplemental Bills, Include Smallpox Funding
The House and Senate yesterday voted 414-12 and 93-0, respectively, to approve separate fiscal year 2003 supplemental appropriations bills, both of which would fund the war with Iraq and homeland security issues, including funding for a smallpox vaccine compensation program, the AP/USA Today reports. The nearly $80 billion Senate plan (S 762) includes $105 million to help states administer smallpox vaccines to emergency workers (AP/USA Today, 4/4). The Senate bill sets aside $35 million for a smallpox vaccine compensation program but does not endorse a specific plan. CongressDaily/AM reports that it is "unclear" whether the Senate will approve a vaccine compensation program to authorize the appropriation (Rovner, CongressDaily/AM, 4/4). The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Wednesday approved a bill (S 719) supported by Republicans that would give a $262,100 lump sum payment to survivors of people who die or to people who become disabled as a result of receiving the smallpox vaccine and also would compensate people with less severe injures for up to $50,000 in lost wages after they miss more than five days of work and pay for medical treatment. However, some Democrats who support more generous compensation said they would contest the bill when it reaches the floor (California Healthline, 4/3). The Senate FY 2003 supplemental appropriations plan also includes $200 million for first responders in large cities and $155 million for veterans' care, AP/USA Today reports (AP/USA Today, 4/4).
The House's $77.9 billion FY 2003 supplemental plan (HR 1559) includes $50 million for a smallpox vaccine compensation program but does not endorse a specific plan (CongressDaily/AM, 4/4). The House on Monday failed to approve a compensation plan that would give people who become totally disabled or survivors of those who die as a result of the smallpox vaccine a lump sum of $262,100, the same amount provided in the Senate version. The House legislation would have compensated participants for 66% of lost wages after they missed five days of work for illnesses related to smallpox vaccination or 75% of lost wages for workers with dependents, up to $50,000 per year, or up to $262,100 total (California Healthline, 4/3). Lawmakers are expected to send to President Bush a reconciled FY 2003 supplemental appropriations bill by April 11, the AP/USA Today reports (AP/USA Today, 4/4). NPR's "Talk of the Nation/Science Friday" today will include a discussion of the government's smallpox vaccination campaign. Guests on the program will include Brian Strom, chairman of the Institute of Medicine's Committee on Smallpox Vaccination Program Implementation and director of the Center for Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics at the
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (Flatow, "Talk of the Nation/Science Friday," NPR, 4/4). The full segment will be available in RealPlayer online after 6 p.m. ET.