Proposed Senate jobs bill includes health-care provisions

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The health-care bill may have stalled in Congress, but the draft of the $80 billion jobs bill that just emerged from the Senate contains a number of health provisions. As Majority Leader Harry Reid prepares to propose a final version of the bill before the end of the month, some experts are asking whether the jobs legislation is health-care reform by other means. The House passed its version of a $154 billion jobs bill in December.

Health-care provisions in the draft of the Senate jobs bill include:

  • A seven-month Medicare physician payment fix, preventing scheduled cuts in Medicare reimbursements to doctors. The fix postpones a potential 21 percent cut in payments to doctors.
  • Newly unemployed people would receive a three-month extension to their health insurance subsidies to help them continue buying coverage through their previous employers.
  • An upward revision in the calculation of Medicare Advantage payment rates for 2011 – a plus for the MA plans.
  • A range of one-year payment extensions for certain Medicare programs such as Medicare Part B therapy caps, ambulance add-on payments, enhanced payments for mental health services and extensions in the Long Term Acute Care Hospital Moratorium, originally slated to expire in Dec. 2010

Most of the provisions are temporary, aimed at holding programs over until legislators can address the issues more fully in a health-care bill later this year.  The bill is also expected to include an extension of Medicaid payments to states to help those that are suffering from serious budget crunches.

In addition to the above, the jobs bill includes a number of other unrelated provisions, as reported by Politico:

“It also includes provisions unrelated to jobs, including a reauthorization of the Patriot Act, infusion of new money to the Highway Trust Fund and extension of the so-called doc fix.”

Senator Reid is expected to try to bring the final bill to a vote within the next two weeks.