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Editor's Note: The following bills pertaining to issues affecting the long term care industry were making their way through Congress as of June 14, 2004. Bills listed in past issues that do not appear here have seen no new action taken.

Long Term Care

Bill: H.R. 4095

Title: Family Caregiver Security Act of 2004

Summary: Amends the Social Security Act to provide for the use of qualified family caregivers in home health aide services under the Medicare program. Qualified caregivers will be paid through federal monies to offer in-home services to those needing special care.

Sponsors: Reps. Juanita Millenda-McDonald, D-Calif.; Donna Christensen, D-Va.; Elijah Cummings, D-Md.

Status: Referred to the House Committee on Workforce Protections for further consideration.

Bill: S. 2381

Title: Safe, Orderly. Legal Visas and Enforcement (SOLVE) Act of 2004

Summary: Establishes a temporary worker program that protects United States and foreign workers and strengthens national security under U.S. immigration laws. Creates an earned adjustment program for undocumented aliens, and their spouses and children, who meet specified requirements. Redefines nonimmigrant worker categories to include aliens coming to perform short-term service or labor for nine months or less; viewed as possible aid to labor problems in worker-shortage fields such as long term care. Identical to H.R. 4262.

Sponsors: Sens. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.; Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.; Russell Feingold, D-Wis.

Status: Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary for further consideration.

Bill: H.R. 4262

Title: Safe, Orderly, Legal Visas and Enforcement (SOLVE) Act of 2004

Summary: Summary: Establishes a temporary worker program that protects United States and foreign workers and strengthens national security under U.S. immigration laws. Creates an earned adjustment program for undocumented aliens, and their spouses and children, who meet specified requirements. Redefines nonimmigrant worker categories to include aliens coming to perform short-term service or labor far nine months or less; viewed as possible aid to labor problems in worker-shortage fields such as long term care. Identical to S. 2381.

Sponsors: Reps. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill.; Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii; Annibal Acevedo-Vila, D-P.R.; Joe Baca, D-Calif.; Xavier Becerra, D-Calif.; Howard L. Berman, D-Calif.; 31 others.

Status: Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary for further consideration.

Bill: H.R. 4280

Title: The Help Efficient Accessible, Low-Cost, Timely Health Care (HEALTH) Act

Summary: Also known as the Malpractice Liability Bill, H.R. 4280 sets caps on punitive damages in health care liability cases. It allows patients to recover for economic damages such as future medical expenses and loss of future earnings while establishing a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. It also limits punitive damages to the greater of two times the amount of economic damages awarded or $250,000. The bill also limits the number of years a plaintiff has to file a healthcare liability action to ensure that claims are brought while evidence and witnesses are available and allocate damages fairly, in proportion to a party's degree of fault.

Sponsors: Reps. James Greenwood, R-Pa., Joe Barton, R-Texas, Judy Biggert, R-Ill., John Boehner, R-Ohio, 20 others.

Status: Passed by House on May 12, 2004, by vote of 229 to 197. Text of bill appended to HR. 4279 on May 13.

Bill: H.R. 4279

Title: Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2004

Summary: Amends the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to improve patient access to health care services and provide improved medical care by reducing the burden the liability system places on the health care delivery system. Incorporates the approved text of H.R. 4280, the Malpractice Liability Bill, which sets caps on punitive damages in health care liability cases. It allows patients to recover for economic damages such as future medical expenses and loss of future earnings while establishing a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. It also limits punitive damages to the greater of two times the amount of economic damages awarded or $250,000.

Sponsors: Reps. Jim McCrery, R-La.; Judy Biggert, R-Ill.; John Boehner, R-Ohio; Kevin Brady, R-Texas; 13 others,

Status: Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar for further consideration

Medicare/Medicaid

Bill: S. 2343

Title: Medicare Modernization and Improvement Act of 2004

Summary: Allows the government to negotiate drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies in an effort to gain better prices. Encourages reimportation of lower-priced drugs from Canada. Allows Medicare beneficiaries to have at least two private drug plans available in addition to Medicare, and allows seniors to stay in their government plan for up to two years even if new private plans enter their area.

Sponsors: Sens. Kent Conrad, D-N.D.; Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.; Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark.

Status: Referred to the Senate Committee on Finance for further consideration.

Bill: H.R. 3854

Title: Medicare Prescription Drug Cost Containment Act of 2004

Summary: Contains the costs of the Medicare prescription drug program under the Social Security Act. Establishes a $25.7 billion spending limit for fiscal year 2006, increasingly annually thereafter to a maximum of $73.1 billion in fiscal year 2013.

Sponsors: Reps. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.; Todd Akin, R-Mo.; Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md.; Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Fla.; Jim DeMint R-S.C.; Tom Feeney, R-Fla.; 16 others.

Status: Referred to the House Subcommittee on Health for further consideration.
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Publication:Contemporary Long Term Care
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2004
Words:869
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