Two House committees today take up bills proposing a Medicare prescription drug benefit, while the Senate continues to debate its own Medicare reform bill. Both House and Senate bills include payment assistance for rural hospitals -- $15 billion in the House plan and $25 billion in the Senate version. The Senate bill passed the Finance Committee last week and could be voted on by the full Senate this week. The two House committees, Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce, could approve their bills this week, setting up for a debate and vote by the full House next week. Amendments to the House bills address a variety of issues, including physician ownership of specialty hospitals and compensation for border hospitals that care for illegal immigrants. A House-Senate conference committee must reconcile the bills that pass each chamber in order to send a final version to President Bush. -- by Jeff Tieman
Medicare reform debate continues on Hill
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