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The Budget Debate

House Passes Budget Agreement

November 18, 1999
(Washington D.C.)

Today U.S. Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn (8th Dist.-Wash.) announced that the combined spending and Medicare package, passed in the U.S. House of Representatives 296 to 135, will improve the quality of life of Washingtonians.

The budget agreement improves education by providing more resources for state and local governments struggling to meet the education demands in their communities. More importantly, it provides some flexibility so that school boards don't have to spend the money in the way Washington, D.C., directs them. "This ensures that no child will be left behind as we enter the new millennium," said Dunn.

This package continues the commitment to pay down the debt. For the first time since 1969, last year Congress paid down $51 billion of the national debt. This year Congress paid down another $88 billion. "A lower national debt means lower interest rates, which helps families afford a home in which to raise their children," said Dunn.

In addition, Congress kept its promise to seniors and future generations by putting a firewall between the Social Security Trust Fund and other government spending programs. "After 39 years of raiding this system to feed the appetite of government, it is time to honor our commitment to retirees," said Dunn. The agreement also includes an across-the-board spending cut to root out wasteful government spending.

Two provisions Congresswoman Dunn championed were included in the Medicare portion of the combined spending and Medicare bill. First, the legislation increases the national pap smear reimbursement rate from $7.15 to $14.60 and expands the program to cover new technologies for pap smear test systems.

"I am grateful that Congress recognized the importance of preventative health care for women. Increasing the reimbursement rate for pap smears will ensure that women continue to have access to affordable, quality screenings," said Dunn. "Expanding Medicare to include innovative pap smear technologies will soon make this early-detection measure both easier to afford and more reliable. This early indicator will help save lives and give hope to the 15,000 women who are annually diagnosed with cervical cancer."

Second, the budget agreement also guarantees the continued operation of an important Puget Sound AIDS facility, the Bailey Boushay House. The bill increases the reimbursement that Bailey Boushay House receives to treat the 32 percent of their patients who receive Medicare benefits. "The support that Congress has shown to those who live with AIDS is gratifying. Now they may continue to receive the high quality care that the Bailey Boushay House provides," said Congresswoman Dunn.


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