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House Passes Spending Authorization-Medicare Bill

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Members of the U.S. House voted 245-182 Tuesday to approve a new temporary spending measure that could make lasting Medicare program changes.

House leaders packaged the spending measure, the “Further Extension of Continuing Appropriations Act, 2018″ (FECAA) legislation, as a House amendment to a Senate amendment to H.R. 1892, a bill that would affect the rules that apply when federal facilities fly the U.S. flag at half-staff.

The federal government’s current authorization to spend money on its operations will expire at midnight Thursday. The H.R. 1892 amendment would extend operating authority until March 23.

The government shutdown prevention amendment attracted some bipartisan support. Eight of the 236 Republicans crossed party lines to vote against the amendment, but 17 of the 191 Democrats who voted crossed party lines to support it.

(Related: 5 Major Medicare Changes in the New Anti-Shutdown Bill)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the Senate Democratic leader, have said they are working on an alternative to the House measure.

At press time, the Senate had not posted any drafts or summaries of its work, and it was not clear how much of the House measure the Senate might keep.

The House measure includes provisions that could shorten the unit of service for Medicare home health benefits to 30 days, from 60 days; change Medicare home health benefits need certification rules; start the process of letting Medicare Advantage plans cover more telehealth services; and authorize studies that could, eventually, lead to changes in Medicare wellness and condition management programs.

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