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Copyright 2000 The National Journal, Inc.  
The National Journal

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April 15, 2000

SECTION: OUTLOOK; Pg. 1210; Vol. 32, No.16

LENGTH: 520 words



House: Approved a bipartisan patients' rights bill (H.R. 2723) on
Oct. 7, 1999, 275-151, then merged it with an insurance access
bill (H.R. 2990).

     Senate: Approved S. 1344 with narrower reforms favored by
health insurers on July 15, 1999, 53-47.

     Outlook: With the House going on a two-week recess, GOP
leaders will miss their target deadline of completing work on the
bill by late April. Staff-level talks seem to be yielding
compromises on access to obstetricians and specialty care. The
biggest remaining obstacles: the patient appeals process and the
bill's scope.      BANKRUPTCY REFORM
House: Approved H.R. 833 on May 5, 1999, 313-108.

     Senate: Approved amended version of H.R. 833 on Feb. 2,

     Outlook: Senate leaders report no apparent progress in
untangling their bankruptcy bill from amendments raising the
minimum wage, even though talks with the House on a stand-alone
measure could move quickly. Some pro-industry lawmakers worry
that a stripped-down bankruptcy bill would attract tough
financial privacy add-ons.

House: Referred bills to cut federal gasoline taxes to the Ways
and Means Committee.

     Senate: Refused to end debate on S. 2285 on April 11, 43-
56, effectively killing the bill.

     Outlook: Strong bipartisan opposition embarrassed Senate
Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., whose proposal to
temporarily cut fuel taxes and tap the budget surplus to fill
funding gaps in highway projects was rejected.

House: Approved conference agreement on H.Con.Res. 290 on April
13, 220-208.

     Senate: Approved conference agreement on April 13.

     Outlook: Republican leaders cheered passage of a final
fiscal 2001 budget resolution, which included nearly $ 4 billion
extra for defense, $ 20 billion for a Medicare drug plan, and at
least $ 150 billion for tax cuts, before the April 15 deadline.
But appropriators face the sobering job of drafting spending
bills that will cut key programs.

House: Approved H.R. 6 on Feb. 10, 268-158.

     Senate: Began floor debate on S. 2346 on April 11.

     Outlook: Democrats slowed work this week on the Senate
bill because they wanted to offer a scaled-back alternative, plus
amendments that would add a Medicare prescription drug benefit
and pay down the debt. Democrats say married couples deserve tax
relief, but they see the GOP versions as excessive and likely to
be vetoed.

House: Approved H.R. 2418 on April 4, 275-147.

     Senate: Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee
approved S. 2366 on April 12, 18-0.

     Outlook: Thanks to a bipartisan compromise negotiated
with the Clinton Administration, the Senate may resolve the two-
year power struggle over control of the nation's organ transplant
programs. But that means persuading the House to hand back
significant power to the Health and Human Services Department.

LOAD-DATE: April 18, 2000

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