Bills that would reauthorize a 5-year-old federal program for graduate medical education at children's hospitals and federal aid for state high-risk insurance pools passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee by voice vote. At deadline, it was unclear when the full Senate would vote on the bills. The committee approved $330 million for teaching at pediatric hospitals in fiscal 2006 as part of the bill that would extend the federal program through 2010. A pending appropriations bill proposes $303 million for fiscal 2005. Sixty-one hospitals are eligible for the special GME payments, which have "tremendous bipartisan support," said Peters Willson, vice president of the National Association of Children's Hospitals. The second bill would authorize $75 million from fiscal 2005 to 2009 for state high-risk health insurance programs, meant to help people with previously existing medical conditions. -- by Jeff Tieman
Senate panel OKs funds for GME, high-risk pools
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