Targeting Wal-Mart and other large companies that don't provide insurance to their workers, congressional Democrats have introduced legislation requiring that states report the names of companies with at least 50 employees who receive government-funded health insurance. At least 15 states already require such disclosure, the legislators said. Government programs such as Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program "should not also have to underwrite the profits for large companies like Wal-Mart," said Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) in announcing the bill. About half of Wal-Mart's 1.26 million workers get their health insurance through government programs or through a spouse's employer, the lawmakers said. Sen. Jon Corzine (D-N.J.) is a co-sponsor and Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) is sponsoring similar legislation in the House.
In other Washington news, the CMS announced plans for a demonstration project that will allow some Medicare recipients to receive medically related adult day-care services under the home health benefit. The project, scheduled to begin in February, is authorized by the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003. Home health agencies, which would receive 95% of the prospective-payment rate, would partner with adult day-care centers to provide care that would otherwise be given in the home. Home health agencies would receive 95% of the home health prospective-payment rate for services provided to beneficiaries participating under the demonstration. Also, the Department of Veterans Affairs has said it will need $1 billion more than the original $70 billion targeted for the agency for fiscal 2006, Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) said in a news conference. The shortfall was discovered after a midyear review of the agency's budget found the original estimate was based on inaccurate data. The budget request for VA healthcare next year is $1.2 billion. -- by Tony Fong