Federal budget spares most health programs

January 15, 2014
Area(s) of Interest: Advocacy Health Care Reform 

The U.S. House of Representatives today passed an omnibus spending package for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. In an unexpected turn of events, the bill spares most major health care agencies from additional cuts and boosts spending for biomedical research, public health preparedness and substance abuse and mental health care services.

The $1.1 trillion, 1,582-page spending plan will fund the U.S. government through the end of the 2014 budget year. The plan follows guidelines laid out in the budget agreement Congress passed in December and avoids several contentious health policy disputes—including how to fund the Medicare payment reforms separately making their way through Congress. Funding for the repeal of the sustainable growth rate repeal and other Medicare payment reforms will be addressed through separate legislation.

The spending package includes $29.9 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), up $1 billion from last year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would receive $6.9 billion, $567 million more than last year. The Food and Drug Administration would get almost $2.6 billion, an increase of $91 million. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration would see a total of $3.6 billion, $144 million above 2013 levels.

Although the NIH would receive $1 billion above last year's levels, the proposal does not fully restore funding lost last year due to sequestration and the government shutdown.

The bill largely continues current funding for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), with one notable exception—the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) and the Prevention and Public Health Fund. The budget would reduce IPAB funding by $10 million. This unelected, unaccountable advisory board is mandated to make arbitrary spending cuts if Medicare spending exceeds certain targets. The California Medical Association hopes that the funding cut indicates waning support for this ill-conceived advisory board, which we have opposed since it was first proposed.

The Senate is expected to take up the measure by the end of the week.

Contact: Elizabeth McNeil, (800) 786-4262 or emcneil@cmadocs.org.


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