Monday, February 16, 2009

Congress Passes Economic Stimulus Package

Last week’s goal for both the House and the Senate was to pass an economic stimulus package before the Presidents’ Day recess. The House adopted the conference report on H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Friday afternoon, with the Senate completing its vote late Friday evening. No Republicans in the House voted for the bill. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Arlen Specter (R-PA) were the only Republicans to vote for the bill in the Senate, providing the key votes needed to pass the bill. Democrats gained the support of the three Republicans after trimming what they considered to be pork spending from the bill. The final bill includes $782.2 billion in spending, down from the original proposal of over $800 billion.

Health care provisions of the stimulus package include:

  • $24.7 billion in subsidies for the COBRA program, which provides health insurance for the unemployed
  • $86.6 billion in state Medicaid funding
  • $19 billion for health information technology development
  • $10 billion toward health research and new construction projects for the National Institutes of Health
  • $1 billion for disease prevention and wellness programs

President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law on Tuesday.

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