Congressional leaders marked more than $87 billion in federal dollars to help states keep their Medicaid programs fiscally viable and another $27.1 billion for a raft of other healthcare provisions as part of an $825 billion spending and tax-cuts bill meant to lift the sagging national economy and create and save jobs.
The legislative outline includes $20 billion in funding to help spur the adoption of electronic health records and other components of a fully wired information technology system, and $3 billion aimed at prevention and wellness programs, according to documents released by the House Appropriations Committee. A majority of the health IT dollars likely will fall under the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Medicare program.
There are still a lot of details that need to emerge, said Richard Pollack, the American Hospital Associations executive vice president. But theyve addressed a lot of issues we put on the table. This represents a very solid, good start.
Specifically, the spending package includes $1.1 billion for comparative-effectiveness research; $1.5 billion in additional funding to the community health centers; and $600 million to help bolster the training and recruitment of primary-care physicians.
The bill also earmarks $550 million to help modernize aging medical facilities within the Indian Health Servicea measure that Tom Daschle, HHS secretary-designate, had brought up during a confirmation hearing last week.
Another provision, which adds $30.3 billion to extend health insurance coverage under COBRA, was also cheered by the hospital lobby. One last provision would extend a moratorium on a number of Medicare and Medicaid regulations, though details on which specific rules were not immediately available.