Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee moved forward with the formal process of considering the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 appropriations bills by releasing specific funding levels for each of the 12 appropriations bills. Typically, the House and Senate passed budget resolution would establish the total discretionary funding levels for the Appropriations Committee in both the House and Senate. This year, as outlined in a previous blog post here, the House and Senate have been unable to come to agreement and pass a budget resolution. In the absence of a formal budget resolution, both chambers are moving forward with consideration of their FY2017 appropriations bills by using the total discretionary funding level outlined in the two year budget deal, the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA), Congress passed with President Obama’s approval last year.
The Senate divvied up the total discretionary allocation amongst the 12 appropriations bills including the Labor, Health, Human Services (LHHS) bill that includes annual funding for health centers. The total spending level, known as the 302b allocation, provided for the LHHS bill by the Appropriations Committee is $161.9 billion. In FY2016, the 302b allocation for the LHHS bill was $162.127 making the FY2017 level slightly lower than the previous fiscal year. The House has not yet released their 302b for the LHHS bill.
Health Centers along with all other programs funded out of the LHHS bill will be competing for funding out of the $161.9 billion provided in the Senate in FY2017. Given the funding level is lower than FY2016 and well below pre-sequestration levels, the threat of funding reductions looms. That’s why our FY2017 health center support letters are so critical to demonstrating support for the program amongst both Senate and House members and we are thankful for the record levels of bipartisan support we received on the Wicker-Stabenow and Green-Bilirakis letters.
As both the Senate and House move forward with the appropriations process, we have submitted written testimony from Dan Hawkins, Senior Vice President for Policy and Research explaining the health center FY2017 appropriations request. This testimony is viewed by the members of the LHHS Subcommittee and their staff and is something they take into consideration when drafting the LHHS bill. Copies of both the House and Senate testimony can be viewed here.
The LHHS bill is often the last bill to move through the process because it is often heavily debated and the most difficult bill to pass. It is possible the Subcommittee may not take up the bill until this summer. As consideration of the FY2017 appropriations process moves forward, we will continue to post updates through both Health Centers on the Hill and the Washington Update.