Congress reconvened following the August recess to a hectic schedule. Almost immediately, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee began holding a series of hearings on opportunities to stabilize insurance markets. The action comes following the failure to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, and the emerging expectation is that bipartisan lawmakers will quickly assemble a package of minor adjustments to promote access to affordable insurance options.
The Senate Appropriations Committee advanced the FY 2018 Labor-HHS-Education (L-HHS) Appropriations bill, which funds federal medical research and patient care programs. The House previously crafted an FY 2018 L-HHS bill, but the Senate version holds more favorable allocations for many agencies and programs. Below, please find a summary of key items from the FY 2018 Senate L-HHS bill.
·36.1 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an increase of $2 billion over FY 2017 and $900 million more than the House.
o$344.3 million for the Institutional Development Awards (IDeA) program at NIH, an increase of $11 million over FY 2017 and $30 million less than the House.
o$533 million for the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program at NIH, an increase of $17 million over FY 2017 and $7 million more than the House.
oIncludes language prohibiting capping “Facilities & Administrative” costs at 10%.
·$324 million for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), level-funded from FY 2017 and $24 million more than the House
The House and Senate continue to manage all twelve annual appropriations for FY 2018. With FY 2017 set to expire at the end of the month, Congress is currently readying a stop-gap funding measure known as a Continuing Resolution or “CR” to keep the federal agencies operating at their FY 2017 funding level. Such action will gave lawmakers until December to finalize and enact all FY 2018 spending bills, including the L-HHS bill.