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On the Hill: GOP Budget Faces Delay, Senate Combats Opioid Abuse

The House Budget Committee has released its fiscal year 2017 budget proposal, a $3.9 trillion plan that includes $1.07 trillion in discretionary spending. The committee was scheduled to vote on the proposal March 16 and send it to a floor vote in the House the following week.

But the GOP might not have enough votes to pass the budget proposal: The House Freedom Caucus, a group of about 40 strongly conservative Republicans, has said it could not support the budget because it does not cut enough spending.

Fighting Opioid Abuse

The Senate has passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which is designed to combat the opioid abuse epidemic. Supporters of the legislation are hoping to get House leadership to take up the bill soon.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of senators on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions — including Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and ranking member Patty Murray (D-WA) — introduced mental health legislation and held a mark-up on March 15. The legislation would

  • create a block grant for prevention and treatment of substance use disorders;
  • help state and local communities deal with emerging drug issues; and
  • reauthorize grants to provide workforce education and training to identify mental and behavioral health issues.

Medicare Issues

The House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health held a hearing titled, Preserving and Strengthening Medicare. Witnesses included representatives from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, The Heritage Foundation, and AcademyHealth.

On March 17, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce will hold a hearing to exam the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, a 2015 law that permanently repealed the Medicare sustainable growth rate and established a new physician payment model that promotes the use of alternative payment models. The bill also reauthorized the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for two years.

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About the Author

Walsh is the senior manager of legislative affairs for America's Essential Hospitals.