TAX RELIEF AND HEALTH CARE ACT OF 2006 -- (House of Representatives - December 08, 2006)
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Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to voice my support for H.R. 6111, the Tax Relief and Healthcare Act. And, I would also like to thank Chairman THOMAS for all of his hard work both on this bill and throughout his tenure in Congress and as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.
Mr. Speaker, I am extremely pleased that this bill makes an important fix to a very urgent Medicare problem that if left unaddressed could have caused many hospitals--including 7 in New Jersey--to possibly have to close their doors to those who require that care. By providing an extension to changes to the hospital wage index classification system, these hospitals will be able to continue to receive higher Medicare reimbursement rates and thus avoid real financial jeopardy. Both this provision and the provision to eliminate the cut of up to 5 percent in payments to health care providers solve critical healthcare problems that cannot be put off any longer.
I am also pleased that a number of very important tax relief extensions were included such as the Research and Development Tax Credit and state and local sales tax deductions. I only wish that instead of extending these; we would make them permanent.
Mr. Speaker, I am, however, disappointed to see a number of miscellaneous provisions included in the bill that Congress has not had ample time to debate and that cost the taxpayers millions of dollars. The most egregious of these provisions is the provision regarding the Abandoned Mine Land Fund. The bill reduces some AML fees and converts the program from discretionary to mandatory spending. This will increase the deficit by $3.9 billion over the next 10 years. At a time when Congress should be looking for ways to reduce out-of-control mandatory spending, I do not believe this is prudent.
Mr. Speaker, even though I do not support every provision in this bill, the Medicare fixes and tax relief extensions are critical in nature and will benefit millions of Americans and I urge my colleagues to support this bill.
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