Fate of Medicare Part D, minimum wage bills unclear

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All eyes have turned to the Senate – and President Bush – now that the House has approved two key pieces of legislation that would affect nursing-home operations significantly. Bush has said he would veto at least one of the measures.

The House passed a bill allowing the government to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies and a bill to raise the minimum wage. It had pledged to pass both pieces during its first 100 hours in power.

The House voted 255 to 170 on the drug negotiation bill. The legislation would require the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate prices directly with pharmaceutical companies under the Medicare prescription drug benefit and report to Congress in six months. It would allow insurers that sponsor Medicare drug plans to negotiate lower prices than those obtained by the government. The president said he would veto it, the administration said.

Also this month, the House voted to increase the minimum wage by $2.10 to $7.25 an hour. The American Health Care Association said it supports the increase but it also is concerned that such an increase may hurt quality of care in facilities.

(Published on 1-19-07)