HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Medicare Reform in the Stimulus Bill

The Wall Street Journal's Health Blog reports on some of the proposed changes in Medicaid currently being discussed as part of a stimulus bill. 

You might mistake the economic stimulus package slated for a House vote today for a health-reform bill, if weren’t sprinkled with some goodies for other sectors of the economy.  Take a look at the changes to Medicaid policy, in particular, the New York Times reports. If it becomes law, the bill would temporarily allow unemployed workers to qualify for Medicaid regardless of their income or assets. Medicaid is typically for the poor.

The bill also increases federal funding for Medicaid and subsidizes laid-off workers who are paying for Cobra insurance coverage through their former employers, NYT says. Here’s how the paper quotes the Congressional Budget Office on the costs: $87 billion to increase the federal share of Medicaid; $29 billion to subsidize private insurance and $11 billion to fund Medicaid for unemployed workers who wouldn’t otherwise qualify. . . . .

One casualty of congressional horsetrading is an expansion of contraceptive coverage under Medicaid, the WSJ reports. That one had been blasted by Republicans, and Democratic leaders late Tuesday agreed to remove it.

Meanwhile, on the health information-technology funding in the bill, National Public Radio caught up with John Halamka, chief information officer at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He argues that the $20 billion dedicated to increasing doctors’ use computers will create about 200,000 jobs .. . . .

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