The House, by a 250-151 vote, passed a $602 billion spending bill that would set 2006 funding for HHS and the Education and Labor departments. The bill would give the CMS $401 billion for mandatory and discretionary spending, $95.8 billion more than in fiscal 2005. The bill sets aside $890 million for implementation of the new Medicare drug benefit, which will kick in Jan. 1. The bill also would cut funding for rural health programs by about $30 million and funding for healthcare workforce development and retention by $253 million. The appropriations process is far from over. The Senate next month is scheduled to begin tackling its own spending bill. Congress must then agree on a compromise bill to send to the White House. -- by Tony Fong
House approves fiscal 2006 HHS spending bill
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