Last Friday, after weeks of negotiations, Congress swiftly moved to pass a $1.8 trillion spending package, which also funds the government until September 30, 2016. Earlier in the week, Congress passed another short-term extension of funding as they were unable to meet the December 11th deadline and vote counts on the final omnibus package were initially shy of the number needed to pass the legislation. Ultimately, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Act passed both the House and Senate without any major hurdles and the bipartisan legislation sailed through House by a vote of 316-113 and the Senate by a vote of 65-33.
Included in the bill is the text of the final negotiated appropriations legislation for FY2016, which includes funding for the Health Center Program and other key health priorities. A copy of the bill can be viewed here. The Health Center provision begins on page 889 line 6 and ends on page 890 line 5.
The bill contains a discretionary funding level of $1.491 billion for the Health Center Program, which, when combined with the $3.6 billion in mandatory funding provided earlier this year through H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), represents a total funding level of $5.1 billion for the Health Center Program in FY16. Of that total, the legislation specifies that no less than $150 million be spent on construction and capital improvements and no less than $200 million be spent on expansions of health center capacity, including new delivery sites and additional services like oral and behavioral health. Each of these funding levels is consistent with NACHC’s requests for FY2016. This is a huge victory for the Health Centers Program and direct result of all of the hard work and efforts of our health center advocates.
In advance of final consideration of the legislation, NACHC issued a statement in support of the FY2106 Omnibus Appropriations Act. The statement, which also acknowledges and thanks our bipartisan Congressional champions, can be viewed here.
Passage of this bill finalizes a long, but ultimately very successful, year of funding fights for health centers – first, a two-year extension of mandatory funding at $3.6 billion a year, and second, maintaining level discretionary funding. This will ensure that those ongoing investments made by HRSA over the last year (for example, in New Access Points, Expanded Services and Base Adjustments) will continue into the year ahead. All Health Center advocates should be proud of this result, even as we gear up for the FY17 process!