Health Center Federal Policy

House Sets FY2011 Discretionary Appropriations Levels As Appropriations Advocacy Continues

The annual appropriations process picked up some steam in the House of Representatives last week. On Thursday night, the House passed its FY 2010 war supplemental spending bill, which also included new funds for teachers and federal student loans. The supplemental also included a budget enforcement resolution that set spending limits for FY 2011 discretionary appropriations.

The budget enforcement resolution differs from a traditional five-year budget resolution in that it only sets spending limits for one year, and it does not include future spending and revenue projections usually present in a traditional budget. The budget enforcement resolution passed as part of the supplemental bill caps FY 2011 discretionary spending at $1.121 trillion, which is $7 billion below the President’s FY 2011 budget request and $3 billion less than the Senate Budget Committee Resolution passed in April.

NACHC has been doing constant meetings and targeted advocacy with members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, especially members of the Labor-HHS Subcommittee on Appropriations to explain our post-health reform health centers’ request. In light of the Health Center Fund passed as part of the Affordable Care Act (the health reform law), health centers are in a somewhat unique situation as a part-discretionary, part-trust fund program. We’re working to educate our supporters on the Hill that in order to fulfill the promise of the Health Center Fund, we need to maintain our base appropriations at least at the FY2010 level. While we’ve received no indications that there are plans to cut funding for the Health Centers program, we continue to hear that our advocacy is critical during this extremely tight appropriations season. The Committee will be making lots of difficult choices, and some programs will end up being cut.

NACHC will continue to meet with key committee members: this congressional recess week, we will be continuing our work on the Senate-side in particular. In the meantime, if your Member of Congress is visiting your health center this congressional recess, let us know and we will be happy to work with you to prepare for a good funding discussion. Overall, the simple message is: it is imperative the health centers receive at least level funding of $2.19 billion in FY 2011 in order for us to reach our goal of 20 million new patients over the next five years.

We will continue to keep you up to date on the appropriations process as we get closer to the Labor-HHS subcommittee markups!