The Senate passed a spending plan for the rest of the fiscal year that retains the so-called sequester cuts that hit federal agencies March 1 and will drain 2% from Medicare reimbursement for services rendered after March 31.
The $984 billion bill approved 73-26 Wednesday afternoon would fund the government through Sept. 30 and avert a shutdown slated for March 27. In order to get that done, lawmakers sought to avoid provisions that would have drawn a Republican filibuster. One casualty was a $1 billion request from the White House for implementing health insurance exchanges and other provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Gary Cohen, director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at CMS, recently told reporters that CMS had sufficient funds already to ensure that the exchanges begin enrolling people in all 50 states on Oct. 1.
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