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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