Congress, in recess after passing a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending package last week, might deliberate insurance marketplace stabilization – an issue left unresolved in the omnibus debate – when lawmakers return to Washington in two weeks, some observers say.
Last week’s final spending package included several health care funding provisions, including:
- $4 billion allocated to combating the opioid crisis;
- more than $2 billion for mental health programs and services;
- a $10 billion increase in Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) funding, bringing the department’s total funding to $78 billion; and
- a $3 billion increased in National Institutes of Health funding, bringing the agency’s total funding to $37 billion.
The final spending bill left out payments for Affordable Care Act (ACA) cost-sharing reduction payments, a reinsurance proposal from Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bill Nelson (D-FL), and a proposal to increase flexibility in Section 1332 State Innovation Waivers.
Notably, an ACA marketplace stabilization package was not included in the final bill. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) halted the Republican-led market stabilization proposal because it included Hyde Amendment language barring funding for access to abortion care.
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce last week held two hearings on the opioid epidemic, including deliberation of 25 bills to combat the crisis.
America’s Essential Hospitals submitted a statement for the record to the committee in support of several of the proposals, including:
- H.R. 5197, Alternatives to Opioids in the Emergency Department Act, which would allow hospitals to rein in opioid prescribing by assessing the use of alternative medication options for pain management;
- H.R. 5102, Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Workforce Loan Repayment Act, which would offer student loan repayment of up to $250,000 for participants who agree to work as an SUD treatment professional in areas most in need;
- H.R. 5261, Treatment, Education, and Community Help to Combat Addiction Act, would support learning institutions that specialize in SUD treatment education to improve how health professionals are taught about SUD and pain management for patients;
- the Poison Center Network Enhancement Act, which would reauthorize the national network of poison control centers; and
- a discussion draft of a bill supporting the peer support specialist workforce, which would expand HHS grants to peer support specialist organizations providing recovery services.