Congress extended the availability of $2.7 billion in unspent State Children's Health Insurance Program funds dating to 1998 through 2001. The extension applies to $1.2 billion allocated for 1998 and 1999 and $1.5 billion allocated for 2000 and 2001. States now have up to 2005 to spend the money, depending on the year it was allocated. States will retain half of their unspent funds for 2000 and 2001; the other half will distributed among states that spent their allotments for those years. In other Washington news, the CMS said Medicare payment rates for home health agencies will rise 3.3% in fiscal 2004 -- or approximately $340 million. The payment increase follows the CMS' release in May of comparative data on home health agencies. -- by Tony Fong
SCHIP funds extended, home health update set
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