WASHINGTON -- Racing to beat the adjournment clock, a Senate panel yesterday approved a pair of alternative bills that could affect the way states pay for their Medicaid health program for the poor.
Unless Congress acts by Wednesday, when lawmakers expect to adjourn for the rest of the year, a Bush administration rule will take effect Jan. 1 to prohibit 38 states from using certain hospital taxes and donations to pay for their share of the Medicaid program.
Maryland has its own special tax on doctors that is expected to net the state $55 million each fiscal year. The tax would be preserved under a compromise reached Thursday between the administration and the National Governors Association.
States have warned that the proposed administration rule could affect the health care delivered to 28 million poor Americans and pregnant women who receive Medicaid benefits.
The Senate Finance Committee action set up four choices for lawmakers: delay implementation of the rule until April 1, 1992, as approved by the panel; adopt a second bill containing a compromise regulation hammered out in the past few days between the administration and the nation's governors; delay the rules until Oct. 1, 1992, as the House voted on Tuesday; or do nothing and let the regulations take effect in January.
The White House and the governors would like to see their compromise adopted by Congress.
Tom Bowman of The Sun's metropolitan staff contributed to this article.