CQ’s Carey Examines War Spending Bill With SCHIP Funding, House Measures To Expand Veterans Health Care, Medical Malpractice Legislation

Mary Agnes Carey, associate editor of CQ HealthBeat, discusses SCHIP funds included in the fiscal year 2007 supplemental war appropriations bill, House approval of veterans’ health care legislation and the introduction of bicameral measures that would provide funds for states to search for ways to settle medical malpractice suits in this week’s “Health on the Hill from kaisernetwork.org and CQ.”

According to Carey, the supplemental spending bill, which President Bush signed on Friday, includes $650 million to cover SCHIP shortfalls in some states, although Congressional Budget Office estimates show that the net additional federal cost could be as low as $396 million because of savings from keeping some children in SCHIP instead of moving them to Medicaid. In addition, the bill delays for one year two provisions that would reduce Medicaid spending by $5.6 billion during a five-year period. The legislation also includes funding for veterans’ health care programs and SeniorCare, a Wisconsin program that helps low-income seniors pay prescription drug costs, Carey says. SCHIP reauthorization legislation is pending in the House and Senate, according to Carey.

The House recently approved several bills that would expand health care for veterans, including increasing the term of no-cost health care from two years to five years for veterans returning from service, establishing research centers for traumatic brain injury and creating a grant program for state veterans’ outreach programs, Carey says. According to Carey, the Senate has not announced which bills it will consider, but some of the House-approved bills have been introduced in the Senate.

Carey also discusses legislation introduced in the Senate and House that would create grants for states to develop new approaches to deal with medical malpractice. Under the legislation, grants would be awarded to states that can provide “prompt and fair resolution” to medical malpractice claims, as well as those that encourage early disclosure of medical errors and improve patient safety, Carey says. Sponsors of the legislation hope state efforts will help Congress find a national solution to a medical malpractice system they say is broken, according to Carey (Carey, “Health on the Hill from kaisernetwork.org and CQ,” 5/29).

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