President Vetoes War Spending Measure With Health Care Funds
President Bush on Tuesday vetoed a $124.2 billion supplemental appropriations bill for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan that includes funds for a number of health care programs because of opposition to provisions that call for the withdrawal of most U.S. troops from Iraq by March 2008, CQ Today reports.
House leaders on Wednesday likely will vote to override the veto, an effort that "is almost certain to fail," according to CQ Today (Ferrechio, CQ Today, 5/1).
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 (California Healthline, 4/27).
Congressional leaders on Wednesday likely will meet with Bush to discuss a compromise bill (Gay Stolberg/Zeleny, New York Times, 5/2). According to the AP/Tennessean, the Bush administration "is taking aim at much of the $21 billion in congressional add-ons."
Bush said, "The bill is loaded with billions of dollars in nonemergency spending that has nothing to do with fighting the war on terror. Congress should debate these spending measures on their own merits and not as a part of an emergency funding bill for our troops."
Funds for DOD health care programs "probably will survive" in the compromise bill, the AP/Tennessean reports.
However, House and Senate Democratic aides said that the compromise legislation might not include funds for pandemic flu preparedness (Taylor, AP/Tennessean, 5/2).
Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) said that some of the provisions in the bill unrelated to military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan "will survive" in the compromise bill and that most of the provisions not included in the legislation will shift to the fiscal year 2008 appropriations process (Koffler/Cohn, CongressDaily, 5/2).