Health Center Federal Policy

House Approves Year-Long Appropriations Bill; Health Centers Anticipate Senate Action

by Anne Morris, MPH

Last week, the House approved a FY 2011 appropriations bill (H.R. 3082) by a vote of 212 to 206.  This bill funds government programs for the remainder of FY 2011, freezing total spending at the FY 2010 level ($1.09 trillion) while making funding adjustments between programs.

H.R. 3082 provides $7.27 billion for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which is comparable to the FY 2010 funding level after eliminating special projects (earmarks).

This bill makes it possible for HRSA to provide level funding to the Health Centers program ($2.19 billion), which as you’ll remember has been our FY 2011 appropriations ask and will allow health centers to stay on track to reach 20 million new patients by 2015.  H.R. 3082 also provides $100 million for Federal Tort Claims Act malpractice coverage for health center employees and contractors, an increase of approximately $56 million over FY 2010 funding.  Finally, H.R. 3082 increases funding for HRSA’s health professions programs and State AIDS Drug Assistance Programs funded through the Ryan White Care Act.

As reported in our latest appropriations blog, we now await word from Senate Democratic Leadership as to whether the Senate will amend H.R. 3082 to reflect a previously-negotiated omnibus bill or pass H.R. 3082 without changes.  You may recall from an earlier update, Senate Minority Leader McConnell has indicated he will oppose an omnibus bill; and Senate procedural rules require 60 Senators (2 more than the total number of Democrats and Independents who caucus with Democrats) to support its consideration if any Senator opposes.  NACHC understands there are several Republican Senators who may support an omnibus; however, it’s unclear whether all Democratic Senators will support this package.  To help with the math here: if the Democrats were to lose three votes, for example, they would need at least five Republicans to support the omnibus for it to be considered.

The short-term Continuing Resolution that’s currently funding all programs expires on Saturday, so we expect to see Senate activity on H.R. 3082 very soon.

Stay tuned to Health Centers on the Hill for the latest!