Yesterday, the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations sent a $164 billion funding bill to the Senate floor that would increase money for health care research; restore year-round grants available to college students and work to fight opioid addiction.
The first bipartisan bill to fund the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in seven years passed the committee by a 29-1 vote.
The Bill would provide $162 billion in base spending, about $270 million less than last year’s amount and $2 billion less than President Barack Obama requested. It also includes $2 billion in cap adjustment funding that aims to prevent waste, fraud, abuse and improper payments in the Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs.
Specifically, the bill would eliminate 18 duplicitous or unnecessary federal programs in addition to the 18 eliminated by last year’s funding bill, and provide $34 billion to the NIH, an increase of $2 billion. In all, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would get $76.9 billion, an increase of $1.4 billion, under the bill. It also would provide $126 million more to combat opioid abuse, an increase of 93 percent.
Those increases come at the expense of other programs, with $117 million cut from after-school programs, $74 million cut from workforce training grants to states and $118 million cut from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nevertheless, earned broad bipartisan support.
Both Republicans and Democrats lauded the restoration of year-round Pell grants for more than 1 million students nationwide, a measure that Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wa., the subcommittee’s ranking member, included in the bill.
The bill would provide students with, on average, an extra $1,650 to help pay for college accrding to the legislative statements.
The bill wouldn’t provide new funding for Affordable Care Act measures, but would continue prohibitions that aim to stop the administration from using discretionary funding to prop up the ACA’s risk corridor program, which collects contributions from insurers with lower risk enrollees and transfers them to those with higher risk ones.