Some House Republicans Call for Delay in Medicare Prescription Benefit To Offset Hurricane Costs
Some conservative House Republicans are considering a number of measures that would offset the funding going toward the recovery effort for Hurricane Katrina, including a proposal that would delay implementation of the Medicare prescription drug benefit, Roll Call reports. The Republican Study Committee has launched "Operation Offsets," a project led by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) that is considering options ranging from small alternations to previous appropriations to larger changes, such as the delay in the drug benefit.
"We all agree that we are willing to write whatever check is needed for Katrina," Hensarling said, adding, "But I do not want to take a great human tragedy of this generation and compound it with a huge fiscal tragedy for the future."
Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is pushing a measure he introduced in March that calls for delaying implementation of the 2003 Medicare law. Flake's bill has 13 co-sponsors, and RSC members said they "sense considerable enthusiasm for his proposal" in the wake of passage last week of the $51 billion supplemental spending bill for Hurricane Katrina recovery, Roll Call reports.
However, supporters of Flake's measure acknowledge that delaying the 2003 Medicare law will not have widespread support in the Bush administration or among Republican leaders. "I think the odds of [the bill being given a floor vote] are minimal at best," a senior Republican leadership aide said (Pershing, Roll Call, 9/15).
Additional information on the Medicare drug benefit is available online.