Spending bill preserves provider taxes

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President Bush has lent his support to a new $120 billion war spending bill. Notably, the spending plan appears to give provider taxes a one-year reprieve. CMS had planned to stop the practice by instituting a ban on the intergovernmental transfers that fueled higher federal matches.

The latest spending bill puts the plan on hold, at least for a year. If enacted, the measure was expected to reduce provider payments by up to $5 billion, according to industry estimates. CMS had also planned to redefine which healthcare entities are considered "government" providers.

The president vetoed a prior version of the bill in large part because it placed a timetable on the return of troops from Iraq. This new bill does not contain a similar mandate. Congress is expected to pass the bill before the weekend.

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