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HEALTH POLITICS: Skip the Flowers and Chocolate, Show Economy You Care With Health Reform

Congress is set to pass a $787 billion economic stimulus package—with more than a $130 billion in health-related funding. The House is expected to vote this afternoon, with the Senate scheduled to follow suit this evening.

Congressional leaders worked late into the night Thursday, to reconcile he House and Senate versions of HR 1. The conference report detailing the compromises in the final legislation is available from the House Committee on Rules. Just how late were lawmakers up hammering out the details? The 496-page pdf is filled with handwritten notes and last-minute edits.

Here are the press releases from Appropriations, Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means and Senate Finance detailing their committee provisions in the final bill.

Below is a brief highlight of legislation's health related spending:

  • $87 billion in additional federal Medicaid funds for states, including an across the board increase in FMAP of 6.2 percent, with further reductions in state share based on unemployment rates.
  • $24.7 billion for federal subsidies to COBRA covering 65 percent of the cost of health insurance premiums for a maximum of nine months
  • $19 billion for health IT, with $17 billion for investments and incentives through Medicare and Medicaid
  • $10 billion in funding for NIH,
  • $1.1 billion for comparative effectiveness research
  • $1 billion for prevention and wellness programs

For Congressional leaders looking to tell the economy they care this Valentine's Day, nothing says I love you like health reform. While no bill's perfect, the health spending provided in this legislation will not only help stimulate the economy but also lay the foundation for broader comprehensive health reform. Considering the price of roses these days, we'd say it's a bargain. But health reform isn't just for special occasions. So we hope Congress and the administration will continue to show the economy and the American people, just how much they care, by addressing broader health reform efforts early and often in the coming weeks and months.