A House Appropriations subcommittee last week was considering a fiscal 1997 HHS spending bill that would eliminate $385.4 million in payments that Medicare carriers and intermediaries use to guard against fraud and abuse.
Meanwhile, the full Appropriations Committee approved legislation that would increase the Department of Veterans Affairs' healthcare budget by $444.4 million, compared with fiscal 1996, to a little more than $17 billion. That's the same as the Clinton administration's spending request.
Under a separate bill approved by the committee, the Indian Health Service's healthcare budget would increase $31.8 million to just under $1.8 billion, although construction funding would shrink by $11.3 million to $227.7 million.
And in a separate action, the full House voted 278-126 for a fiscal 1997 Defense Department spending bill that would fund the military healthcare system at $9.9 billion, up $32.7 million from fiscal 1996.
The proposed elimination of fraud-control payments to Medicare contractors came because the health insurance reform bill the House passed in March appropriated money for fraud investigations. However, the money appropriated in the health insurance bill could go to current Medicare contractors. The HHS spending bill would decrease payments to Medicare carriers and intermediaries to $1.2 billion in fiscal 1997 from $1.6 billion in fiscal 1996.
The same bill also eliminated about $13.1 million in funding for rural hospital demonstration projects, diverting about $10.4 million of that money to Medicare certification programs. Medicare certification programs would receive $158 million in 1997.
The National Institutes of Health would see a healthy increase, climbing to $12.7 billion in 1997 from $11.9 billion in 1996. That fiscal 1997 figure is $340.9 million more than the Clinton administration requested.