Hart Health Strategies provides a comprehensive policy briefing on a weekly basis. This in-depth health policy briefing is sent out at the beginning of each week. The health policy briefing recaps the previous week and previews the week ahead. It alerts clients to upcoming congressional hearings, newly introduced bills, regulatory announcements, and implementation activity related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and other health laws.


President Signs FY 2011 CR Ending Budget Stalemate

The enactment of H.R. 1473 finalizes the protracted partisan battle over spending for the remainder of this fiscal year, thus preventing a federal government shutdown.  The House vote was 260-167 with 59 Republicans showing their displeasure with the $38.7 billion in spending reductions which fell short of the $61 billion in savings under H.R. 1, the House’s opening shot in the budget debate.  Congressional leaders said that the CR would cut $20 billion in discretionary spending and about $17.8 billion in mandatory spending, taking into account the $12 billion in cuts already enacted under prior CRs.  As part of the process, the House passed H.Con.Res 36 which would have defunded Planned Parenthood, but the Senate again turned this back on a 42-58 vote. 

In similar fashion, the House also passed H.Con.Res 35 which would have defunded the PPACA, but the Senate rejected this on a 47-53 vote.  As to other PPACA programs, the law: eliminates the Free Choice Voucher Program which would allow employees to convert their employer plan contribution into vouchers to be used under insurance exchanges and cuts funding for the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan program by $2.2 billion. 

The law also requires audits of the PPACA waivers for min-med plans approved by HHS as well as the law’s comparative effectiveness research program.  Overall, HHS receives a $3.4 billion hair cut under the new law.  Specifically, the law affects health related program spending as follows:

  • HRSA funding decreases by about $1.2 billion;
  • community health center funding decreases by $600 million, although $400 million would be available under the PPACA;
  • FDA funding increases by $2.5 billion; the Aids Drug Assistance Program funding increases by $25 million;
  • Maternal Child Health block grant funding is flat-lined; funding for the State Health Access Grant program is eliminated;
  • rural health program funding is reduced by $35 billion;
  • Bureau of Health Professions funding is reduced by $164 million;
  • $3.5 billion is cut from the state performance bonus fund for enrolling children under Medicaid;
  • the CDC facility fund is reduced by $69 million (overall CDC funding is cut by $730 million) and the similar fund for NIH is reduced by $50 million (overall NIH funding is cut by $260 million). 

The completion of this spending compromise allowed Congress to adjourn for their two week spring recess.

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