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Sanders lowers ask for health centers to $4.4B

Bernie Sanders

Sanders. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate HELP Chairman Bernie Sanders said this evening that he is paring $1.4 billion from his original request and pushing for at least $4.4 billion for a year of community health center funding as part of a health spending deal.

Why it matters: Community health center funding is one of the few health care items still in play as twin deadlines loom for continuing to fund the government.

  • But Sanders previously pressed for $5.8 billion, arguing that there is a crisis of a shortage of primary care providers in the country.
  • What they're saying: "We have compromised far more than I would have liked," Sanders told reporters leaving Monday evening votes. "The Republican proposal was at $4.4 billion. I'm not going to accept anything less than what the Republicans passed in the House."
  • Sanders replied yes when asked if he thinks he can get $4.4 billion. That would still be a 10% increase over current funding levels.

Between the lines: Congressional aides and lobbyists also say it is looking unlikely that the pandemic pandemic reauthorization, known as PAHPA, will be included in a spending deal.

  • A few Medicaid provisions aimed at improving treatment for substance use disorder could make the cut, though, the sources said.
  • Non-Medicaid pieces of the SUPPORT Act, aimed at the opioid crisis, are looking unlikely.

The Medicaid provisions still in play include requiring states to suspend rather than terminate Medicaid coverage for people entering prison, to make it easier to reenroll upon release.

  • Another provision would make permanent the option for states to cover inpatient substance use treatment under Medicaid, known as repealing the IMD exclusion.
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