Appropriations close to completion, significant health changes omitted

Appropriations close to completion, significant health changes omitted

The House approved an agreement that provides a slight increase in funding for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), bringing the total to $116.8 billion for fiscal year 2024. However, due to previously established budget caps, the increase effectively keeps funding flat compared to the previous year. Lawmakers were able to avoid a 1 percent sequester cut by reaching this agreement.

Many of the contentious health-related changes, such as reforms to the pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) industry and hospital payment reforms, were left out of the $1.2 trillion government funding bill due to a lack of consensus among members. These issues will likely be revisited in a year-end “lame duck” session to try and reach an agreement.

Lawmakers also removed the anti-abortion provisions that House Republicans had inserted into numerous spending bills. Instead, they highlighted investments in Alzheimer’s research, with the National Institutes of Health receiving a $300 million increase in base funding, $100 million of which will go towards Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias research.

The PEPFAR program, aimed at combatting HIV and AIDS internationally, was granted a one-year extension for the first time since its inception. This extension will maintain funding levels through March 2025 without imposing any anti-abortion restrictions desired by conservatives.

As the deadline approaches for government funding to lapse at midnight, Congress will need to finalize the agreement to prevent any interruptions in essential services. Despite challenges in reaching a consensus, lawmakers are working to address the outstanding issues in the House and continue making progress on key healthcare initiatives.

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