The Senate last night narrowly passed a 10-year, $350 billion tax-cut package that also would provide $10 billion in federal money to assist battered Medicaid programs and $25 billion over 10 years to increase Medicare provider payments. Despite broad support among healthcare providers, the healthcare provisions could falter in the House-Senate conference committee that will craft final legislation for President Bush's signature. "This is a tax bill ... I don't think there's going to be any healthcare provisions in the bill at the end of the day," a senior House aide told Modern Healthcare's Daily Dose. In addition to the state aid, the senators proposed in the bill spending $25 billion over 10 years to permanently equalize the base payment rate for rural and urban hospitals; more equitably distribute disproportionate-share payments; ease the bed-limit requirement for the critical-access hospital program; provide a 5% add-on payment for rural home health agencies; and target assistance to some low-volume hospitals. Earlier this month the House passed a 10-year, $550 billion tax cut that did not include any Medicare or Medicaid provisions. -- by Jeff Tieman
Tax bill's healthcare provisions face uphill battle
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