Health Center Federal Policy

Finalization of FY 2011 Appropriations: Could the End Finally Be in Sight?

by Krystal E. Knight, MPH

At the end of last week, Congress passed a measure to extend the current Continuing Resolution for two more weeks, keeping the federal government running through December 18th at FY 2010 levels. As you’ll recall from our recent appropriations post, the Continuing Resolution was set to expire Friday, December 3rd at midnight.

NACHC understands that the Democrats in the House of Representatives are prepared to pass a year-long Continuing Resolution to send to the Senate – possibly as soon as Thursday. Though the final details of this year-long Continuing Resolution are unknown, it would likely fund programs for the remainder of FY 2011 at current (FY 2010) program levels, with some exceptions.  Once the Continuing Resolution reaches the Senate, Appropriations Chairman Inouye and Democratic Leadership will have to make a determination as to whether there are sufficient votes to substitute this year-long Continuing Resolution with a previously-negotiated omnibus bill.

If the Senate Democrats do in fact have the votes to substitute an omnibus, the FY 2011 appropriations bill would have to be sent back to the House for a final vote since the House and Senate have to approve an identical measure. The House would then vote on passage of the Senate’s omnibus bill later in December. However if Senate Democrats do not have the votes necessary to make the substitution, they would likely vote on the House-passed, year-long Continuing Resolution and pass this bill without amendments, sending it on to President Obama for his signature. Given the health center discretionary appropriations ask is for at least level funding, this scenario of a year-long CR would likely meet our ask for the Health Centers program.

It seems as though the appropriations process for FY 2011 may be drawing to a close…maybe. There are still a number of scenarios that could play out – including an inability of Congress to reach agreement on a FY 2011 appropriations bill and falling back on yet another short-term extension that would require consideration of FY 2011 appropriations early next year.  However, it is clear that all discretionary programs, including the Health Centers program, are still at risk for possible funding cuts. NACHC will continue to advocate on behalf of health centers and keeping the base appropriation funding level at $2.19 billion in FY 2011, which is the level necessary in order for health centers to reach their goal of serving 20 million new patients by 2015.

We will be sure to keep you up-to-date as the FY 2011 Appropriations process continues!