‘No Progress’ in Debate over Stimulus Bill
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and top Bush administration officials discussed economic stimulus legislation Sunday, but "exhibited no progress in their standoff" on the issue, the Wall Street Journal reports. On "Fox News Sunday," Daschle "reemphasized" that Democrats favor a bill that would provide new benefits for unemployed workers, including health insurance subsidies. "I think it would be a tragedy if we left this session of Congress without helping the unemployed at all," he said (Ip/McKinnon, Wall Street Journal, 11/26). Earlier this month, Senate Republicans blocked a bill, proposed by Democrats, that would have provided $14.3 billion to extend benefits for unemployed workers by 13 weeks and $12.3 billion to help unemployed workers purchase health coverage through COBRA. COBRA, the 1986 Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, allows unemployed workers to retain health coverage under their former employers' insurance plans by paying 102% of the premiums. In addition, the legislation would have allowed states to extend Medicaid coverage to unemployed workers who do not qualify for COBRA and provided $1.4 billion to boost the federal match to states for Medicaid (California Healthline, 11/15). Bush administration officials yesterday "prodded" Senate Democrats to support the House's version of an economic stimulus bill, which is substantially different from the Senate version (Lindlaw, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/26). The House in October approved a $100 billion GOP-sponsored bill, supported by Bush, that would increase funding for the Social Services Block Grant program by $3 billion to allow states to provide health insurance to unemployed workers and their families (California Healthline, 10/29). "The Senate has dithered an awful long time" on an economic stimulus bill, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said on CNN's "Late Edition" Sunday, adding, "The Senate needs to get its act together" (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/26).
USA Today reports that Bush will "turn his attention" to economic stimulus legislation this week and "press" lawmakers to pass a bill this year. Bush will likely decide after a Tuesday meeting with congressional leaders whether he will compromise on the issue, USA Today reports (Keen, USA Today, 11/23). Bush hopes to "jump-start stalled [economic stimulus] negotiations" at the meeting(Reuters/Washington Times, 11/26This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.