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GOP Health Reform

June 07, 2007 | Daily News

Key senators have sponsored legislation that would require CMS to launch a five-year demonstration program to "develop new and innovative approaches" to providing end-of-life care to Medicare, Medicaid and State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) beneficiaries. Sen. John Rockefeller (D-WV), chair of the Finance health subcommittee, offered the Advanced Planning and Compassionate Care Act in January amid growing concern over the fiscal implications of end-of-life care.

June 06, 2007 | Daily News

Senate Finance Committee members emerged from a private meeting Tuesday (June 5) with continued partisan disagreement on whether to expand the scope of the popular SCHIP program, and hinted a physician payment fix is unlikely to be a rider on the Senate's version of the must-pass reauthorization bill. The panel's top GOP member signaled support for a tobacco tax hike to pay for the SCHIP measure.

June 04, 2007 | Daily News

Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) and ranking GOP member Charles Grassley (R-IA) are continuing efforts to hash out a compromise on the much-anticipated SCHIP reauthorization bill and have pushed markup until next Wednesday (June 13) or Thursday (June 14), sources indicated Monday (June 4). Sources had previously signaled the markup might occur this week.

A Baucus aide confirmed that Finance staffers on both sides of the aisle are working together to craft a bill, and Baucus' five principles he had previously outlined "remain our stated goals."

June 01, 2007 | Daily News

State legislators are applauding U.S. trade officials for including language in the free trade agreement (FTA) with Korea that prevents the pact from impeding states' efforts to negotiate cheaper drug prices under Medicaid. State lawmakers complained loudly last year that an FTA signed with Australia could be used by the pharmaceutical lobby to block such price negotiations, and feared it would set a precedent for other trade pacts.

May 30, 2007 | Daily News

CMS Tuesday (May 29) released the final version of the controversial rule that limits Medicaid reimbursement to providers and bans intergovernmental transfers (IGTs), just days after the president signed a war spending bill that delays the rule by one year. A CMS spokesman confirmed the agency will delay implementing the requirements, and said CMS released the final version in the interest of "transparency" and to inform the public CMS will continue to take public comments regarding the definition of a "unit of government" until July 13.

May 22, 2007 | Daily News

An aide to Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) said Tuesday (May 22) the lawmaker is working to keep in the Senate's evolving rewrite of the war supplemental bill a provision allocating $650 million in funding to cover a projected shortfall in the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Capitulating to White House objections, Democrats had dropped a number of domestic provisions from the supplemental, and earlier reports indicated SCHIP might be among them.

May 22, 2007 | Daily News

A federal proof-of-citizenship mandate intended to keep illegal immigrants from infiltrating state Medicaid programs has slashed participation among Virginia's white and black children even while Hispanic enrollment remains on the rise, according to a recent analysis conducted by Virginia Medicaid officials.

A similar analysis in Oregon found that the new law has denied coverage among English-speaking beneficiaries at least as much as it has among Spanish speakers. The reports have caused some opponents of the requirements to suggest the rules are targeting the wrong folks.

May 18, 2007 | Daily News

A highly diverse group of health policy experts, businesses and organizations last week announced the creation of a new coalition that aims to promote awareness of the country's high rate of chronic disease and ultimately make it a top health care issue in the upcoming presidential election. The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) includes former Surgeon General Richard Carmona; Ken Thorpe, chair of Emory College's Rollins School of Public Health; former CMS Administrator Mark McClellan and more than 50 organizations representing a variety of health care stakeholders.

May 11, 2007 | Daily News

As the Finance Committee gets closer to a planned June markup of legislation reauthorizing the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on the popular program is bringing out some philosophical differences between committee chair Max Baucus (D-MT) and top GOP member Charles Grassley (IA) over the program's relationship to private insurance.

May 04, 2007 | Daily News

A bipartisan team of Congress members, backed by a highly diverse and influential group of stakeholders, introduced a wide-ranging SCHIP reauthorization bill on Thursday that relies on public and private initiatives to expand and streamline the program. The Healthy Kids Act, authored by House Ways & Means Committee members Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) and Jim Ramstad (R-MN), and co-sponsored by several well-placed colleagues, would appropriate $60 billion over five years to the popular State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

May 02, 2007 | Daily News

The insurance industry is trying to drum up congressional support for a package of Medigap reforms that would remove certain plans and allow beneficiaries to switch to new ones, increase beneficiary cost-sharing, and in some cases do away with preventive benefits. Frustrated by CMS' reluctance to take administrative action that would allow for the reforms, the industry is seeking help from Congress.

April 27, 2007 | Daily News

As the clock winds down for the dozen or more states facing SCHIP funding shortfalls -- and money to close the gap riding on the unlikely approval of the Iraq and Afghanistan war supplemental -- a trio of influential senators have set their sights forward on a bold plan to reauthorize and expand the program by doubling the amount of covered children in 10 years. To do this, the senators say they will tap expanded cigarette taxes and overpayments to Medicare Advantage plans.

April 26, 2007 | Daily News

Sens. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) launched an effort this week to cover the nation's uninsured by using a few states as laboratories from which to conduct a broad spectrum of experimental reforms, including the adoption of state-based health savings accounts -- popular among conservatives -- and expansions of SCHIP and Medicaid programs, favored by liberals. The senators say the bill will de-politicize a highly charged partisan issue by letting evidence, not rhetoric, lead the debate.

April 25, 2007 | Daily News

Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) has indicated that future war supplemental bills will remain the vehicle for an SCHIP shortfall fix if the White House follows through on its pledge to veto the initial version of the bill next week over issues unrelated to the children's health insurance language.

April 20, 2007 | Daily News

House and Senate leaders will meet Monday (April 23) to hash out differences surrounding their emergency 2007 spending bills -- including approximately $750 million to plug SCHIP deficits this year -- but observers are already looking further ahead, as a promised presidential veto leaves in question how Democrats will move the legislation before states are forced to dip into Medicaid or cut kids' coverage.

April 18, 2007 | Daily News

Now that Democrats in both chambers have passed budget plans with language allowing up to $50 billion to reauthorize SCHIP, the next sticking point in the debate seems destined to revolve around who exactly should be covered under the popular program, which will sunset at the end of September without legislative action.

April 03, 2007 | Daily News

Strapped for cash to cover Medicaid-eligible children, state officials in Kentucky told managed care plans to "back off" enrollment outreach for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), a plan official said, highlighting the difficulties that state governments around the country face as the rolls of children for both programs grow and state matching dollars wane.

During a meeting of America's Health Insurance Plans in Washington late last month, a Kentucky managed care plan official pleaded with a United States senator for advice about the outreach decree.

April 02, 2007 | Daily News

The Senate last Thursday (March 29) passed an emergency 2007 spending bill that supplies $747 million to patch federal SCHIP deficits projected to hit 14 states this fiscal year. The $122 billion bill next requires negotiations with House lawmakers, who passed their own emergency supplemental bill earlier in the month, including $750 million for State Children's Health Insurance Programs.

March 30, 2007 | Daily News

Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), chairman of the Ways & Means health subcommittee, reintroduced legislation Thursday (March 29) to provide comprehensive health care to all U.S. residents through a Medicare-administered program that would include coverage for prescription drugs and mental health services, as well as expanded benefits for children, pregnant women and low income patients.

March 29, 2007 | Daily News

Wisconsin lawmakers and consumer advocates are protesting CMS' plan to turn the state's popular SeniorCare program -- the only remaining state demonstration receiving federal matching funds to cover prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries -- into a benefit that wraps around Part D. SeniorCare supporters say the current program is cheaper than Part D, and Wisconsin could not afford to offer similar coverage under a wrap-around model.