The Senate passed a $2.36 trillion budget plan for fiscal 2005 that would maintain some rural health funding that President Bush's budget proposal would trim and would spare Medicaid, at least temporarily, from up to $11 billion in federal funding cuts contained in an earlier version of the Senate plan. The House Budget Committee is expected to complete its fiscal 2005 budget blueprint March 17 and send it to the full House sometime this week for debate. A spokesman for the House committee said Medicaid funding is not being targeted for reductions. However, House leadership has told the House Energy and Commerce Committee to cut $2.5 billion over five years from programs under its jurisdiction, which include Medicaid.
McClellan wins confirmation
The Senate confirmed Mark McClellan, 40, as the next CMS administrator after McClellan testified on drug reimportation before a Senate panel. McClellan, now Food and Drug Administration commissioner, will be the first CMS administrator who is both a physician and an economist. He succeeds Tom Scully, who left the agency in December 2003 to join a private law firm. Acting CMS Administrator Dennis Smith will return to his previous post as director of the CMS' Center for Medicaid and State Operations. At deadline, a CMS spokesman said he did not know when McClellan would officially start his new job.
Fla. hospital files for Chapter 11
Pan American Hospital, Miami, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in U.S. District Court there, saying it was suffering from the 1999 acquisition of 17 clinics from UnitedHealthcare for $65 million. The 146-bed hospital closed the clinics in 2002 and terminated 1,200 employees. Pan American Executive Director Vicente Sanchez said the clinics proved unprofitable because UnitedHealthcare had stripped them of patients. In its bankruptcy filing, Pan American reported liabilities of about $100 million and assets of $64 million. In addition to the cost of the clinics, malpractice insurance premiums and care for the uninsured have contributed to the hospital's problems, Sanchez said.