Today, the House Labor, Health, and Human Services (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee released their version of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 LHHS bill. The legislation contains the full health center request for FY2016 of a discretionary funding level of $1.5 billion and when combined with the $3.6 billion made available in H.R. 2, health centers would receive a total of $5.1 billion in funding in FY2016. A copy of the Subcommittee summary can be viewed here. The outcome for health centers in the proposed House LHHS Subcommittee legislation is positive result in an environment where total funding levels within the LHHS Subcommittee is being reduced and a great first step in the FY2016 process.
On Wednesday, the House Labor, Health, and Human Services (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee will begin consideration of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 LHHS bill. A live webcast of the markup will be available to watch here beginning at 9am. The Senate LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee is expected to begin the markup of their LHHS FY2016 appropriations bill the week of June 22nd. It is likely the Senate LHHS Subcommittee will pass their bill quickly and move on to consideration by the full Appropriations Committee consideration later in the week. It is unknown at this time when the House will move to consideration by the full Committee.
As in previous years, the House and Senate are facing considerable budgetary constraints due to the reduced caps in spending enacted through the Budget Control Act in 2011. The House LHHS Subcommittee has an allocation totaling $3.7 billion less than FY2015 and the Senate LHHS Subcommittee has an allocation of $3.8 billion less than FY2015. Both Committees will have difficult decisions this year as they work to keep their funding levels within their respective allocations. This means we can expect a long and difficult process as Congress considers these pieces of legislation and continued fights between Republicans and Democrats on raising total spending levels and averting the across-the-board reductions in spending known as sequestration.
For FY2016, health centers are requesting that the House and Senate LHHS Subcommittees maintain the FY2015 level of $1.5 billion in discretionary funding and allow the $3.6 billion in mandatory funding to go forward as intended by Congress in HR 2 for a total funding level of $5.1 billion. This funding request is the same as the total amount Health Centers received in FY2015 and requires no increase in funding from Congress. As you will recall, HR 2 became law in April and extended the mandatory Health Centers Fund for two years at $3.6 billion a year. While HR 2 extended Health Centers’ mandatory funding, we still need to be vigilant in ensuring our annual discretionary funding from Congress remains whole.
The exact timing on consideration of the final LHHS bills by the full House and Senate is unclear at this time. If past years are any indication, we have a long way to go before the FY2016 process as a whole is completed and we could likely expect a series of short term funding extensions if Congress does not finalize the appropriations process by September 30th. If that were to occur, we could expect the process to drag out until much later in the year or even into 2016. Please stay tuned to Health Centers on the Hill for updates on the LHHS bills as information becomes available.