House Approves CR, Senate Unveils Draft HHS Bill

September 2019 ~

The House, on September 19, approved a short-term spending measure that will keep the government funded through mid-November and avoid a shutdown at the beginning of October. Additionally, the Senate, on the 18th, released the FY2020 subcommittee chairman’s recommendation for the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) Appropriations bill.

The continuing resolution (CR), released and passed by the House in a 301-123 vote, will fund and keep the federal government open through November 21, 2019. The bill also contains a number of health care provisions, including a measure that would exclude “authorized generics” from the calculation of the average manufacturer price (AMP) cap for rebates in the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program (MDRP), as well as a measure to delay the reductions of disproportionate share hospital (DSH) allotments in Medicaid, which are due to go into effect on October 1, 2019.

The bill also includes extensions of several health programs including Medicaid in Puerto Rico and the U.S. territories and for Community Health Centers, among others.

“Our continuing resolution will provide families, businesses, and communities with budget certainty while we negotiate long-term funding. After we pass this CR and the Senate moves forward with their process, I look forward negotiating responsible bills that uphold our values and give working families a better chance at a better life,” House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, said in a statement.

A day prior, the Senate Appropriations Committee unveiled a draft FY 2020 spending measure for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS).

The draft FY2020 Labor-HHS Appropriations bill combines $178.3 billion in base allocation with $9.4 billion in changes in mandatory programs. If finalized, the bill would provide a roughly $3 billion increase for HHS, allocating $93.4 billion in discretionary funding for the Department’s 2020 operations and $492 million under the 21st Century Cures Act.

This $187.7 billion budget represents a small, one percent increase over the FY2019 enacted level and focuses on the agencies’ continued investments in critical medical research, opioid abuse prevention and treatment, and education.

“This bill funds a wide range of programs that have one thing in common: improving the quality of life for every American,” said U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, chairman of the Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee.  “I’m proud that we continue our pattern of increasing funding for groundbreaking medical research at the National Institutes of Health.  The $3 billion NIH increase in this bill marks a 40 percent increase over the past five years, paving the way for new advances that are giving hope to millions of families.  This bill continues the fight against the opioid epidemic and provides states more flexibility to tackle other types of addiction that are claiming lives every day.  For the millions of people who struggle with a mental health issue, the bill directs resources toward certified community behavioral health clinics, mental health programs in schools, and suicide prevention programs.”

Source(s): FY2020 Labor-HHS Appropriations Act, Bill Text.pdf;FY2020 Labor-HHS Appropriations Act, Report.pdf; RBMA Washington Insider for September 23, 2019; NBC News; Committee on Appropriations;