KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Senate Wrangling Over Bill With ‘Doc Fix,’ Medicaid Payments, Possible COBRA Subsidy

President Barack Obama seems to be losing the battle to include in the jobs bill - also known as the "extender" bill - a continuation of federal subsidies for laid-off workers to help pay for health insurance through COBRA, The Associated Press reports. Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, "who are seeking a vote this coming week, want to attach their nearly $7 billion provision to must-pass legislation that would extend unemployment benefits and make changes in dozens of federal programs. But a similar proposal was dropped from the House-passed bill, and Senate Democratic leaders also omitted it from their version." Casey and Brown's provision would help subsidize the cost of continuing health insurance for those who are newly laid off (Alonso-Zaldivar, 6/12).

CongressDaily: Meanwhile, Senate Democrats continue to look for 60 votes necessary to pass the "tax extenders" bill this week, which also includes language to prevent scheduled cuts to doctors' Medicare pay and more Medicaid help for states struggling with swelling rolls, But the $115 billion package has a diverse set of provisions and has raised concerns among conservatives--both Democrats and Republicans--who say it will raise the deficit. "Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., whose governor lobbied him to support more Medicaid money last week, said the extender bill could probably squeak through the Senate this week, though without his vote. He said he told Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat, that he ought to focus his efforts on the Blue Dogs." Meanwhile, the bill's Medicare "doc fix" provision also "continues to dangle" (Cohn and McCarthy, 6/14).

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