Senator Chuck Grassley says the bill being debated in the Senate today which provides prescription drug coverage for seniors through Medicare is a “break-through” bill.Grassley says the bill’s gotten farther than ever before because the President has made clear he’ll support the move, with certain conditions. Grassley says the bill can’t be “all things to all people” and won’t make everybody happy. Grassley is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee that drafted the bill that’s being debated, without much controversy, on the Senate floor. Grassley says there’s broad, bipartisan support for the legislation because of the behind-the-scenes efforts of Committee members who’ve been working on the issue for the past five years. Two committees in the U.S. House are considering similar legislation, and Congressman Jim Nussle is pushing an amendment which would send million to Iowa hospitals and doctors who treat Medicare patients. Nussle says the Senate bill includes 25-billion dollars for Iowa and other rural states to fix the Medicare reimbursement system which shortchanges health care providers in rural states, but the House bill at present contains 10-billion dollars less for that goal. Nussle says he’ll try to “fix” the House version of the bill so he can vote for it.Nussle is working with a Democrat Congressman from North Dakota to build a bipartisan coalition that’ll garner enough votes to get the amendment approved in the House Ways and Means Committee. Nussle says he considers fixing the Medicaid reimbursement issue for Iowa hospitals and doctors to be “job one” — before attaching a prescription drug benefit to Medicare. Nussle would provide 27-billion for raising reimbursement rates in rural states, and the money would be available sooner than the Senate plan proposes. Nussle’s amendment may be considered as soon as this evening in the House Ways and Means Committee.
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