Congress to readdress SCHIP, Medicare cutbacks in new session

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Congress plans to examine same healthcare issues. Source: Lewis-Clark State College  

A new legislative session opened Tuesday and lawmakers are preparing to address several issues related to healthcare, including a veto override for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and a reversal of the 10 percent cut in Medicare physician fees.

According to CongressDaily, House Democrats are planning an override vote next week on President Bush's second veto of legislation that would have expanded SCHIP. Bush last month signed legislation to provide funding for SCHIP through March 2009.

House Democrats are considering using reconciliation procedures for Medicare legislation during the FY 2009 budget process, CongressDaily reported. Democrats will be faced with reversing a 10 percent cut to Medicare physician fees later this year, after they passed legislation last session to stop the cut for six months. House Democrats last year attempted to block the cuts by reducing payments to private Medicare Advantage providers, but the plan was rejected by the White House and most Republicans, according to CongressDaily.

In related news, the House New Democrat Coalition is preparing to launch a health policy task force this month, which has a legislative agenda containing a proposal already endorsed by the Bush administration, reported CongressDaily. They will address issues which include electronic prescribing, payments for providers based on quality of care, portable health insurance, expanding school- and work-centered prevention efforts, mandated comparisons of the effectiveness of drugs and treatments, and giving the FDA the authority to approve generic versions of biologic drugs.