Posted by Conor Kenny on July 07, 2008

Coming up this week in the Senate are Harry Reid's latest attempts to pass the main bill containing Congress' response to the housing and mortgage crisis and a rollback of a cut in doctors' payments for Medicare services. A vote on the FISA (warrantless wiretapping) bill is also possible. The House won't be doing much.

Details and this week's committee schedules after the jump.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will take up the main bill containing Congress' response to the housing and mortgage crisis. The central provision of the package is a massive program to offer a federal guarantee to banks on mortgages if the lender agrees to reduce the outstanding principal on the mortgage to 85% of the current value of the house and reduce high, variable interest rates to a lower fixed rate. A version of the bill has passed the House but just before Congress adjourned for the 4th of July recess, Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) derailed a final vote by demanding a vote on an amendment of his containing renewable energy tax changes. Once the bill passes the Senate, however, it still faces a veto threat for President Bush, who has objected to the price of a $4 billion grant program contained in the bill for local governments to buy, fix up and sell abandoned homes.

Reid is also likely to bring up for a second vote the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008, which reverses a 10.6% cut in payments to doctors for Medicare services that went into effect on July 1. Supporters of the bill say the cuts will cause more doctors to stop participating in Medicare while detractors cite the cost of the bill or say more comprehensive changes to Medicare need to be made. The bill has passed the House with a veto-proof margin and was only stopped in the Senate by a single vote vote before Congress broke for recess. (See how your senators and representative voted here.)

Finally, the controversial bill to change the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act may also be brought up for a vote. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has caused a ruckus among many of his supporters by indicating that he will vote for a final bill even if it contains a provision to give retroactive immunity from lawsuits (and possibly criminal prosecutions) to the major telecom companies that broke federal privacy laws by turning over phone records without court authorization when cooperating with President Bush's warrantless surveillance program. He had previously stated that if the bill contained the provision he would support a filibuster, which is exactly what Sens. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) and Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) have announced they will do.

While the Senate plays catch-up on bills passed by the House, the lower chamber is largely concerned with more mudane business this week; the one exception being a bill to require the White House to preserve emails.

This week's committee hearings:

(The House is not in session on Monday and hasn't posted their schedules yet - I'll try to update the post when they do.)

July 8, 2008

Senate

Comments

The website Turning 65 Made Easy is designed to help individuals 65 understand Medicare.

Limo Divers Protest Medicare Mediciad Reform Cuts, It's rumored this issue could become part of the Tea Party movement. AmeriChoice Health also rumored to take a position on this issue. Recirculate those tax dollars? Help keep limo drivers working, benefits flowing and overpaid tax dollars remain in abuse.

Medicare.gov as well as other Federal agency's encourage you to report any fraudulent activities, yet, the same government agency's were notified the way this company does business yet did nothing. Three years ago they were reported to these Federal agency's and as of todays date not only were they allowed to continue doing business but were never charged once. Protected vendor status sure, politics sure, limited government budgets sure, Federal and State officals looking the other way sure, and rather then stop these activities a strong desire not to rock the boat previals. Even with the vast changes in the laws, budgets,a hands off policy remains, you tell me what's wrong with this picture?

The Government created this monster and now they don't know what to do about it, like shooting yourself in your own foot etc. Tons of money to advance their national growth, it's market positions, tons of money for political donations, tons of money to send 75 millIon back to its home office from New York state alone, tons of money to suppot National TV shows, tons of money to pay hugh State fines, tons of money to hire the very best law firms, tons of money to pay for bribes and kickbacks, tons of money for hugh salary's and bonuses, all done on the back of the American tax payor, you see this company receives all it's money from the Federal government. Should your tax dollars be held to a higher standard? Should our government agency's responsible for there review and be held to that same standard? Should the IRS audit their corruption? Why has this company not been charged? How long can the buck be passed here in more ways then one?

Hey, it's your tax dollars don't complain now.. then don't complain later on…

ps… I know times are tough for a lot us, but it would be great to have a free limo to go to the Doctors, Pharmacy, Movies, Grocery shopping, and given free tickets for the movies. Offered soda, pop corn and hotdogs, as well as have them receive free coupons for Grocery items…Kind of makes you wish qualified for Medicare and Mediciad right?

For three years now, a woman has left her home in Poughkeepsie, New York, five days a week and taken a taxi to visit her child at St. Margaret’s Center, a nursing home for disabled children in Albany, New York. Each night, she rides home by taxi. That costs $300 a day. What dedication by taxpayers. That is right. Taxpayers have shelled out $196,000 over the past three years so that she can make this Poughkeepsie-Albany commute each day. Incredibly, state health officials defended this daily abuse of taxpayers. Could not the woman move to Albany? It would have been cheaper to buy her a Cadillac Escalade and have her drive herself. But under Medicaid’s incomprehensibly illogical rules, taxpayers had to give this woman a whopping $65,000 subsidy. We underpay doctors by 20% or more. But one — likely two — cab drivers have a gravy train going there. For New York state, the bill comes to $98,000 — with federal taxpayers shelling out another $98,000.

Oh and this happens all over the place. Ambulances in Southern West Virginia became taxis as they shuttled people off to the drug store and the like — and then billed Medicaid. New York state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said the $196,000 taxi drive was part of at least $169 million in misspent funds. “We found the state Medicaid system is leaking millions of dollars,” DiNapoli told the Albany Times-Union. “Safeguards designed to protect the taxpayers by detecting waste, fraud and abuse keep failing.” Taxpayers finance $196,000 ride By CATHLEEN F. CROWLEY Staff Writer Published: 01:00 a.m., Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bill Moyers presents "United States of ALEC," a report on the most influential corporate-funded political force most of America has never heard of -- ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.