Early version of bill has funding for testing, care

Federal money for the Southern Nevada Health District to provide additional blood testing and follow-up care in connection with a hepatitis outbreak is tied up in talks for an emergency spending bill in Congress, a spokesman for Sen. Harry Reid said.

An early version of a bill being formed in the Senate probably will contain $5.25 million that Reid, D-Nev., requested for the health district and $21 million earmarked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for projects related to the Las Vegas outbreak, spokesman Jon Summers said.

"We just need to make sure we pass" the local funding, said Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev. "Local and state government right now are stepping up to the plate."

Meanwhile, the Government Accountability Office is examining the Las Vegas outbreak in an investigation into outpatient clinics, said aides on the House Committee on Oversight.

At the committee's request in November 2006, the GAO started a broad study of infections associated with health care.

An initial report on infections tied to medical procedures in hospitals was issued last month. The panel, led by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., held a hearing to review the GAO work.

Ongoing is a study of infections in outpatient settings. As the Las Vegas outbreak gained prominence, committee staff and GAO investigators agreed it would be made part of the study in some way, said House aides who asked not to be identified because they were not fully familiar with the details.

GAO officials could not be reached Thursday evening.