KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

House Likely To Vote On Measure That Includes COBRA Subsidy Extension And Medicare Doc ‘Pay Fix’

Congress Daily: Congressional Democrats are scurrying today to advance a $192 billion catch-all legislative package that includes "safety-net benefits for the unemployed, physician reimbursements, tax breaks for businesses and other provisions." In the House, where a vote is likely on Wednesday, leaders continued today to face concerns from budget hawks, caution within their own caucus about raising taxes on businesses and an overall sense of unease that even if they muster the needed 218 votes to pass the bill, the Senate will fall short of the requisite 60. But Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sander Levin expressed confidence that the measure would pass and "cited the impact on laid-off workers and seniors' access to physicians if the provisions expire without final passage by Memorial Day. 'We simply have to rise to the occasion in this institution,' he said"  (Cohn and House, 5/25).

CQ: But as House Democratic leaders worked to secure votes, the bill's chances in the Senate became increasingly unclear. "Republican moderate Sen. Olympia J. Snowe of Maine said she's unhappy with the bill, particularly with the cost of a provision to prevent a cut in the reimbursement rate to physicians under Medicare. 'I'm concerned about the lack of offsets,' Snowe said. ... 'At some point you draw lines on some of these issues.'" Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said the upper chamber will stay in session until it completes work on the bill (Rubin and Schatz, 5/25).

Roll Call: "Action this week is key because several social safety net provisions -- including unemployment insurance and health insurance subsidies for the unemployed -- that the bill would continue are set to expire over the Memorial Day recess" (Hunter, 5/25).  

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