Bush presses for vote on budget bill, House approval expected next month

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President Bush is urging Congress to complete work on the fiscal year 2006 budget reconciliation bill that would cut $6.4 billion from Medicare and about $4.8 billion from Medicaid over five years.

The bill is waiting a confirmation vote from the House. Last month, both the House and Senate voted to approve the package. But Senate amendments pushed the bill back to the House, which had already adjourned for the holidays.

Lawmakers in the House are confident that the body will pass the measure. If approved, the bill would offer some significant policy changes for skilled nursing facilities. Among the biggest: It would add an additional year in the transition period for the 75% rule, provide for exceptions to therapy caps and lengthen the look back period when determining Medicaid eligibility for nursing home residents to five years from three years.