Congress readies appropriations bills for president

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As the holiday season approaches, Congress is concentrating on passing several key appropriations bills. If passed, some of the legislation could have profound effects on long-term care spending.

Recently, the Senate Finance Committee held a closed meeting to discuss a Medicare package that would reverse a 10.1% reduction in physician fees. The cut is scheduled to take place Jan. 1. Nursing home providers fear they could receive cuts to their Medicare programs to offset the cost. Also last week, the House passed a $606 billion fiscal year 2008 appropriations bill funding Labor, Health and Human Services and Education programs. The bill now goes to the president, who is expected to veto the measure.

Meanwhile, Congress is trying to muster enough Republican votes to override a likely presidential veto of a bill to reauthorize the State Children Health Insurance Program. The Senate passed H.R. 3963 on Nov. 1. In meetings, lawmakers have objected to a provision to transition adults out of SCHIP and into Medicaid in states that provide SCHIP coverage to adults. President Bush last month vetoed the bill's predecessor, H.R. 976; on Oct. 18, the House failed to override the veto.