Update (Sept. 27): The FY19 Defense-Labor-Health Care discretionary spending package passed both chambers of Congress and is awaiting President Trump’s signature.
With the Senate’s passage of the FY19 Defense-Labor-Health Care discretionary spending package, Congress is now halfway towards providing level funding for the nation’s Community Health Centers at $1.626 billion and keeping the government open through December 7, 2018. It is now up to the House of Representatives to pass the comprehensive spending package before the September 30 deadline.
The Senate-passed bill builds upon Congress’ historic support of the important work of health centers by:
- Providing $1.63 billion in discretionary 330 grant funding to expand quality primary care access at FQHCs across the country. (This represents level funding from FY18, but when combined with the FY19 increase in mandatory Community Health Center funding, FY19 funding for health centers will total $5.6 billion.);
- Directing at least $200 million in Section 330 grant dollars towards quality improvement or service expansion grants to support behavioral health, mental health, or substance abuse disorder services;
- Allocating $120 million to provide Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) coverage for Community Health Center providers and employees.
The bill also invests in expanding the next generation of specialists and providers, and developing HRSA health workforce programs in the years to come. Specifically, the bill:
- Allocates $105 million to the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) to expand the delivery of primary care and substance use disorder treatment services. This brings the total expected FY19 spending for NHSC to $415 million ($310 million mandatory + $105 million discretionary);
- Maintains NHSC loan repayment eligibility for substance use disorder treatment counselors;
- Creates a new $25 million primary care graduate medical education expansion aimed at the top 20% of states with projected primary care provider shortages in 2025; and
- Provides $1.1 billion for the HRSA health profession programs overall – a $36 million increase from FY18.
In addition, most health-related agencies and departments saw substantial increases in funding due to a decision made by the bill’s negotiators to use the Senate’s $2.3 billion higher budget cap for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). See below for a sampling of increases:
- The Health Resources and Services Administration received $6.7 billion (+$106 million);
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) received $7.9 billion (+$125 million);
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMSHA) received $5.7 billion (+$584 million); and
- The National Institutes of Health (NIH) received $39.1 billion (+$2 billion).
Overall, there’s roughly $4.4 billion in the package to battle the opioid crisis and improve access to mental health treatment, along with support for behavioral health workforce training and developing non-opioid pain medications.
NACHC will continue to monitor the progress of the spending package as it awaits a vote in the House. Please feel free to reach out if you have questions, comments, or concerns, and stay tuned to NACHC’s blog for the latest updates about health center funding.