CHN: House and Senate Fail to Extend Help for Low-Income Medicare Recipients
Congress failed to extend the Transitional Medicaid Assistance (TMA) for families leaving the welfare rolls before leaving for a week-long recess. They also failed to extend the QI-1 program, which pays the Medicare Part B premium ($88.50 in 2006) for Medicare beneficiaries with incomes between 120 and 135 percent of the federal poverty level.
On October 6 the House agreed by a voice vote to pass H.R. 3971, which would have extended TMA for three months (through December 2005) and extended QI-1 for one year (through September 2006.) The next day the Senate amended the bill to extend TMA for six months (through March 2006) and would have extended the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program for an additional three months (through March 2006). Under current law, the TANF program will expire December 31, 2005. The House recessed without taking up this change, and without final agreement, the provisions expired.
Because there is separate authorization to continue Medicaid for most of the families affected for four months, if Congress takes up this soon on its return there should be little impact. If Congress fails to act, both these benefits for low-income people will be lost. Advocates will continue to push the House to extend QI-1 and TMA.
Status of H.R. 3971: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d109:HR03971:@@@L&summ2=m&