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On the Hill: Omnibus and Tax Extenders Package

Late Tuesday night, congressional leaders released final fiscal year 2016 omnibus appropriations and tax extenders bills. The $1.1 trillion package includes increased funding for the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The package also includes permanent funding for the Zadroga Act, which funds health care services for 9/11 responders.

The package would delay the Affordable Care Act (ACA) “Cadillac Tax” and medical device tax. It also includes a one-year repeal of funding for the ACA’s Independent Payment Advisory Board.

But despite significant lobbying from America’s Essential Hospitals and other hospital industry advocates, the omnibus bill does not include relief for hospitals affected by a new site-neutral policy that cuts Medicare payment for new hospital outpatient departments by as much as 50 percent. America’s Essential Hospitals is asking Congress to make an exception for certain new clinics in underserved areas or that demonstrably provide access to a significant number of low-income patients; or that were already under construction when the law containing the policy took effect Nov. 2. We will continue to pursue these proposals next year.

With current discretionary funding set to expire today, Congress is expected to pass a short-term continuing resolution funding the government through Dec. 22. The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the omnibus and tax extenders bills on Friday, Dec. 18. The Senate likely will vote on them early next week.

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About the Author

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

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