The Senate’s Weekend Work on Health Care

By John Coster

As of Saturday night, it looked like the Senate was on track to pass its version of a health care reform bill right before Christmas. Saturday morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) released the “manager’s amendment”, which made all the changes to the original combined Senate health care bill that he needed to make to be sure he had 60 Democratic votes to stop debate on the bill and move to final passage.

Passage of the Senate bill will set up a conference with the House to reconcile the two bills. The stated goal is to have the final bill to the President by the State of the Union address, which is in later January.

The new Senate bill would eliminate the so-called public health insurance option, and would replace it with nationwide health insurance plans that would be overseen by the Federal Office of Personnel Management. The manager’s amendment did not make any additional substantial changes to the bill relating to community pharmacy. The only changes made include a provision by Senator Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) that would put in law some of the changes made by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for 2010 in the Medicare Part D MTM program. We’ve endorsed this amendment.

With respect to the Medicaid pharmacy reimbursement issues, a letter was sent to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) from 16 members of the House of Representatives urging House leadership to-at the very least-accept the Senate AMP fix provision which includes a 175% multiplier rather than the House provision which is set at 130%. Reps. signing on: Michael Arcuri (D-N.Y.), Joe Barton (R-Tex.), Marion Berry (D-Ark.), Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa), Rick Boucher (D-Va.), Christopher Carney (D-Pa.), Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), Lloyd Doggett (D-Tex.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.), Timothy Walz (D-Minn.), Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), and Peter Welch (D-Vt.).

If the Senate passes its bill, NCPA will be focusing on assuring that the final health care reform bill protects the interests of community pharmacies so we can better serve our patients. NCPA members can look forward to more details in the next issue of eNews Weekly.

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