By: Abigail Pinkele
Last week, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, H.R. 1314 by a vote of 266-167 in the House and 64-35 in the Senate. The legislation, which came together somewhat unexpectedly and quickly, is a two-year agreement to lift the debt ceiling until March 5, 2017 and increase domestic spending by $25 billion in FY2016 and $15 billion in FY2017.
With this budget agreement in place, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees will have to renegotiate and reapprove their subcommittee spending allocations for FY2016, but hopefully, most will receive an increase from current levels. This means the allocation for all health programs (including Health Centers funding) will be under consideration again. With the increased discretionary spending provided by the budget deal, NACHC will work to ensure the subcommittee allocation is also increased as it will be a deciding factor on how funding is allocated by the Labor, Health, and Human Services Subcommittee as they finalize their FY2016 spending bills.
It is expected the House and Senate Appropriations Committees will negotiate their allocations quickly and move to finalize their FY2016 appropriations bill shortly thereafter. As you may recall, earlier in the year, both the House and Senate Labor Health and Human Services (LHHS) Subcommittees have drafted and approved their versions of the FY2016 LHHS bill and these bills kept health center funding stable in FY16. We can expect the House and Senate Subcommittees will come together to negotiate their differences and agree on one final version of the FY2016 LHHS bill that will most likely be rolled up with all of the other FY2016 appropriations bills into an omnibus as in previous years. Congress faces a December 11th deadline to complete this work.
As the FY16 LHHS bill is negotiated by the House and Senate, NACHC will work with the Appropriations Committees to ensure Health Center Funding in the FY16 LHHS bill is maintained as the process moves toward completion. Stay tuned for updates here on the Health Centers on the Hill blog as well as the Washington Update.