The Trump administration this week released a budget plan for fiscal years (FYs) 2018 and 2019 that would invest in efforts to curb opioid abuse and improve mental health care, but that also would sharply reduce funding for Medicaid, Medicare, and other social programs.
The proposed budget also would change how the government distributes 340B Drug Pricing Program savings and would impose administratively burdensome new reporting requirements and a user fee. Under the proposal, hospitals providing charity care, which is not clearly defined, would receive most 340B savings. A smaller portion would go into the Medicare trust fund.
America’s Essential Hospitals, in a statement, thanked the administration for proposing more opioid and mental health funding, but said the budget proposal remains “unacceptable” for its other cuts to support on which essential hospitals rely.
Both the House and Senate will examine the proposed budget plan this week. The House Committee on Ways and Means will hold a Feb. 14 hearing and the Senate Committee on Finance will hold a Feb. 15 hearing; Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar will attend both hearings.
The budget plan comes after Congress last week passed a bill to fund the government through March 23. The measure delayed cuts to Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments until FY 2020. The bill also included four additional years of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and two years of funding for community health centers, the National Health Service Corps, and other vital health programs. In addition, the measure included a permanent fix to Medicare therapy caps, repealed the Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board, and extended Medicare sequestration for two years.
America’s Essential Hospitals released a statement in support of the funding measure, thanking association member hospitals and congressional champions for their hard work and advocacy during the lengthy process to finalize a two-year delay of Medicaid DSH cuts.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Hearings
Meanwhile, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce will hold a Feb. 14 hearing to examine the effects of health care consolidation and a Feb. 15 hearing on oversight of HHS.