WASHINGTON -- The Department of Housing and Urban Development, after some prodding by Congress, is considering allowing nursing homes with uninsured mortgage loans to refinance with federal insurance, a HUD spokesman said this week.

Permitting the Federal Housing Administration to back the loans would significantly improve credit ratings and interest rates on hundreds of millions of dollars in tax-exempt, small-issue industrial development bonds issued in the early 1980s that are secured by repayment of the loans.

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