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On the Hill: Congress Passes, Biden Signs Bipartisan Gun Bill

On June 25, President Joe Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, legislation to close gaps in current gun safety laws and bolster mental health care, including through new support for hospitals and other providers.

The House sent the bill to Biden with a 234-193 vote June 24, a day after the Senate passed the legislation by a 65-33 margin. Fourteen Senate Republicans, including minority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and 14 House Republicans joined Democrats in advancing the bill. In a statement immediately following House passage, America’s Essential Hospitals thanked Congress for acting on gun violence and for the bill’s support of mental health services.

Mental Health Provisions of Gun Safety Bill

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act contained multiple provisions to address mental health disparities across the nation. Of note for essential hospitals, the bill provides a $15 billion investment in mental health services, including $40 million for community behavioral health clinics and $250 million for community mental health services block grants.

House Appropriations Process Continues

On June 23, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies approved by voice vote its fiscal year (FY) 2023 spending bill. For 2023, the bill provides over $242 billion, an increase of $28.5 billion or 13 percent above the previous year.

The bill includes Community Project Funding, also known as earmarks, and many essential hospitals across the nation are slated to receive this direct funding for new infrastructure and other projects; details on Community Project Funding are available here. The bill now heads to the full committee for further consideration.

Congressional Hearings

On Tuesday, June 28, the Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled, “Protecting America’s Seniors: Oversight of Private Sector Medicare Advantage Plans.”

On Wednesday, June 29, the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled, “Investing in Public Health: Legislation to Support Patients, Workers, and Research.”

On Thursday, June 30, the House Committee on Appropriations will mark up the FY 2023 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bills and Revised Report on the Suballocation of Budget Allocations for FY 2023.

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About the Author

Christina Fagnano is the legislative affairs associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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