NU Online News Service, June 19, 11:10 a.m. – The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee voted 22-16 early Wednesday to pass H.R. 4954, the Medicare Modernization and Prescription Drug Act of 2002.

The bill, which is supported by the Republicans, would provide $40 billion over 10 years to increase Medicare payments to health care providers, and $310 billion over 10 years to set up a voluntary Medicare prescription drug program.

The committee also voted 23-16 to kill an alternative supported by some Democrats that would have provided $800 billion in funding for a Medicare prescription drug program.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee must also approve the bill before it can go to the House floor for a vote by the full House.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Nancy Johnson, R-New Britain, Conn.

More information about H.R. 4954 is available at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d107:h.r.04954: