Medicaid Funds Restored to ‘Extenders’ Bill, More Changes in the Works
On Tuesday, Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) offered a substitute amendment to the so-called "extenders" bill (HR 4213) that would restore about $24 billion in additional federal Medicaid assistance to states through June 2011, CQ Today reports.
The boost in funding would extend funding allocated in the 2009 federal economic stimulus package that is scheduled to expire in December (Rubin , CQ Today, 6/8).
The Medicaid provision was omitted from the House-approved extenders bill to alleviate House members' concerns over the bill's cost and secure enough votes in that chamber for passage (California Healthline, 6/8).
The restoration of the Medicaid funding and other changes to the bill would raise the bill's cost to about $140.2 billion, CQ Today reports. The bill would raise the federal deficit by about $77.5 billion, according to a new Congressional Budget Office estimate (Rubin , CQ Today, 6/8).
Core Bill Remains Intact, Additional Amendments Expected
According to CQ Today, the extenders bill remains largely unchanged from the House-approved version. However, Senate Democrats this week are expected to add several more provisions that would raise the bill's cost.
On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Senate Democrats plan to introduce amendments that would:
- Extend COBRA subsidies for unemployed U.S. residents, a provision that was omitted from the House-approved bill (Rubin , CQ Today, 6/8). The amendment by Sen. Bob Casey (D-Penn.) would cost $7 billion, CongressDaily reports; and
- Delay the scheduled 21% cut to physicians' Medicare reimbursements through 2013 -- two years more than the House-approved bill -- at a cost of about $40 billion, according to CongressDaily.
A Senate Democratic leadership aide said that Reid wanted the bill to have a longer payment rate extension. GOP aides have said that Republican members would support a longer-term "doc fix" if its costs are offset (Cohn, CongressDaily, 6/9).
Baucus' substitute amendment retains the small payment increases to physicians -- 2.2% for the remainder of 2010 and by 1% in 2011 -- included in the House-approved bill (Rubin , CQ Today, 6/8).
Cost Remains Key Factor for Bill's Senate, House Prospects
Concerns of deficit-wary Democrats could be a challenge to passage of the bill, CQ Today reports. Reid and Baucus must attract at least one Republican to reach the 60 votes necessary to end debate on the bill and facilitate a final vote, which they hope to schedule early next week.
Any changes approved by the Senate would send the bill back to the House for a revote. House leaders already were concerned about the cost of the legislation and cut the cost of the bill several times in order to gain passage.
The final package passed by just a 215-204 vote in the House, which means that any costs added by the Senate -- such as those in Baucus' amendment, which offsets only a portion of its costs -- could make it more difficult for the legislation to pass the House again (Rubin , CQ Today, 6/8).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.