Health Priorities in Federal Budget Bill

The federal budget package which passed last week after an hours-long government shutdown includes many important healthcare provisions, such as four additional years of funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (providing a full 10-year reauthorization), the elimination of the scheduled Medicaid DSH cuts for FY 2018 and 2019, funding for community health centers, extensions of several Medicare rural health programs, and $6 billion for the opioid crisis and mental health.

The Medicare cap on therapy payment is permanently repealed.  The package also includes funding for several public health programs, including the National Health Service Corps. The package repeals the Independent Payment Advisory Board and also includes offsets to pay for the funding expansions, including a 1.5% update reduction for home health. It will also require that biologic manufacturer discounts for Medicare “donut hole” beneficiaries be expanded to generic manufacturers; currently only branded biologics are required to offer discounts. 
The new law lifts the budget caps for two years preventing any additional sequestration cuts. (The current 2% sequester remains in place.)

The president signed the bill on Friday.