While the House is in recess this week, the Senate remains focused on fiscal year (FY) 2020 spending bills as time runs out leading up to Nov. 21, when current funding levels expire.
Lawmakers must pass legislation before that date to fund government operations and avert a $4 billion cut to Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) funding. The federal government currently operates under temporary funding that includes an extension of FY 2019 funding levels for key health care programs, including Medicaid DSH.
When the House returns next week, only eight legislative days will remain before the temporary funding expires. The Senate has 12 legislative days to work through its backlog of spending bills for FY 2020 and strike a deal with House Democrats.
Last week, the Senate passed its first spending measure for FY 2020 — legislation that combined four separate spending bills. Separately, the Senate failed to advance a second package of spending bills that included a measure to fund the departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. The House already passed 10 spending bills for FY 2020. A total of 12 bills must advance through Congress and be signed by the president to fully fund the federal government.
With the Nov. 21 deadline fast approaching, House and Senate leaders are discussing whether to approve another short-term spending bill to keep the federal government operating and maintain funding for Medicaid DSH and other health care programs.
Health Workforce Bills Pass House
Before departing Washington, the House passed a group of bills to authorize a new round of funding for health care workforce development programs, including:
- nursing development and training programs;
- programs designed to assist professionals from disadvantaged backgrounds; and
- programs to train and educate health professionals for palliative and hospice care;
Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions last week marked up and approved the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2019 (S. 1399), which would reauthorize the extension of nursing workforce development programs.