HELP Committee's Health Workforce Hearing May Start '09 Budget Fight

The battle over fiscal year 2009 federal health care funding may be joined as early as Feb. 12, when U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., is scheduled to convene a hearing of the full Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on the subject of addressing health care workforce issues of the future. Kennedy castigated President Bush on Feb. 4 for his FY09 proposed budget's cuts in Medicaid, Medicare, CDC, SAMHSA, and the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the hearing may be his soapbox to continue the criticism and ask committee members to support higher funding.

The committee has not yet posted a list of witnesses for the hearing, which is one of two scheduled next week by the committee. The second one, set for Feb. 13, is a Children and Families Subcommittee hearing, "Writing the Next Chapter of the Family and Medical Leave Act -– Building on a Fifteen Year History of Support for Workers."

Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., chairs the subcommittee. Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are members of the panel and are busy campaigning. This hearing's witnesses also have not been posted. Visit http://help.senate.gov to check for updates and webcasts of the committee's hearings.

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