HOUSE CATASTROPHIC CARE DEBATE EXPECTED TO INCLUDE REPEAL AMENDMENT, SPEAKER FOLEY PREDICTS; FLOOR CONSIDERATION EXPECTED TO BEGIN SEPT. 27
House floor debate on Medicare catastrophic coverage modifications are likely to include an amendment to repeal the law, House Speaker Foley (Wash.) said at a Sept. 21 press conference. Foley predicted that discussion of a repeal will be permitted during floor debate of the budget reconciliation bill. The bill includes a Ways & Means Committee plan to make the program voluntary, raise the drug deductible, and decrease supplemental premiums while increasing flat premiums. The House Rules Committee is expected to vote Sept. 25 on the rule governing floor debate on the fiscal 1990 budget reconciliation package. Under House procedures, only those amendments listed in the rule may be offered on the floor. The full House is expected to vote on the rule for floor debate Sept. 25-26; consideration of the bill itself is tentatively scheduled to begin on Sept. 27. The Rules Committee heard testimony for and against repeal of the Catastrophic Coverage Act at a Sept. 21 hearing but did not proceed to a vote. If permitted, the repeal amendment is expected to be offered by Reps. Donnelly (D-Mass.) and Archer (R-Texas). "We will probably make 'in order' an opportunity for members to vote for repeal," Foley said. Foley also said he expected that members will be permitted to vote separately on whether to waive the requirements of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings budget law in the case of a repeal, which could lead to substantial budget deficit. Foley said that he favored modification of the catastrophic care program, as proposed by Ways & Means, over an outright repeal. House Budget Committee Chairman Panetta (D-Calif.) reportedly told the Rules Committee a flat repeal of the law would lead to a $ 4 to $ 5 bil. loss in revenue for fiscal 1990 and would require a waiver of Gramm-Rudman. Panetta and Budget Committee Ranking Minority Member Frenzel (Minn.) urged the Rules Committee to resist the movement to repeal the law.
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