Feb 7, 2018

There’s a ton of health care money in the Senate’s budget deal

Sens. Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer reached a budget compromise. Photo: Al Drago-Pool/Getty Images

The bipartisan spending agreement unveiled in the Senate today would fund a host of important health care priorities. It includes money to combat the opioid crisis and would add a few more years onto the latest extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The impact: In addition to authorizing new health care spending, the budget deal would repeal one of the Affordable Care Act's most controversial efforts to control future spending — a panel known as the Independent Payment Advisory Board that was created to automatically cut Medicare payments if the program's spending grows too quickly.

The deal includes:

  • A 10-year CHIP extension, up from the six years Congress passed last month.
  • $6 billion to combat the opioid epidemic and related mental-health crises.
  • $7 billion, over two years, for community health centers.
  • $2 billion for the National Institutes of Health and nearly $500 million for the National Health Service Corps.
  • A roundup of so-called Medicare “extenders,” including delays in scheduled cuts to certain hospitals that primarily serve low-income patients.

What’s next: This deal still has to actually pass, but its broader agreement on the balance between military and domestic spending should help win over reluctant Democrats.

Lawmakers are still negotiating a separate package to help stabilize the Affordable Care Act’s insurance markets. Insurers had been hoping some of those provisions would be able to catch a ride on this must-pass spending bill, to improve their chances of ultimately passing. But that effort will have to play out on its own.

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 on Friday to 433 on Saturday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

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Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

Bernie Sanders rallies in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 21. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Center-left think tank Third Way urgently called on the Democratic front-runners of the 2020 presidential election to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders on the South Carolina debate stage on Feb. 25, in a memo provided to Axios' Mike Allen on Saturday.

What they're saying: "At the Las Vegas debate ... you declined to really challenge Senator Sanders. If you repeat this strategy at the South Carolina debate this week, you could hand the nomination to Sanders, likely dooming the Democratic Party — and the nation — to Trump and sweeping down-ballot Republican victories in November."

Situational awareness

Warren Buffett. Photo: Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

Catch up on today's biggest news:

  1. Warren Buffett releases annual letter, reassures investors about future of Berkshire Hathaway
  2. Greyhound bars immigration sweeps
  3. U.S. military officially stops offensive operations in Afghanistan
  4. America's future looks a lot like Nevada
  5. Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins