Health Center Federal Policy, Uncategorized

Reconciliation is Released and Includes Additional Health Center Investments

By: Krystal Knight & Kaitlin McColgan

Yesterday the House Rules Committee posted the legislative text for the Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute to H.R. 4872- the Reconciliation Act of 2010. The Reconciliation Bill makes changes to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the Senate-passed health reform legislation), and together, these bills are expected to form the final health care reform package.

As anticipated, the reconciliation bill actually improves the already strong (from the health center perspective) Senate bill and leaves intact all of the Senate’s health-center-related provisions. A prominent feature of the reconciliation bill is an increased investment in the Health Centers program as proposed by the President earlier this month. In total, the reconciliation bill, along with the underlying Senate health reform bill (H.R. 3590), directs $11 billion in new, dedicated funding to grow the Health Centers program over the next 5 years. This comes very close to the original $12 billion passed by the House last year. This dedicated funding is in addition to Health Center discretionary appropriations.

Other provisions in the reconciliation package that impact health centers’ daily ability to provide access to care include:

  • Expanded Medicaid coverage to all individuals and families with incomes below 133% FPL, which will extend the Medicaid program to some 16 million low-income and uninsured Americans.
  • An additional $1.5 billion in funding to the National Health Service Corps for scholarship and loan repayment.
  • Payment protections for health centers in the new insurance exchanges that ensure at least the Medicaid PPS reimbursement rate.

Please click here to read a letter from NACHC C.E.O. Tom Van Coverden to Speaker Nancy Pelosi in support of the final health reform package.

In addition, yesterday the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) came out with their preliminary score, which indicates the bills taken together (reconciliation plus the Senate bill) will extend coverage to 32 million Americans, meaning 95% of the country’s eligible population will be insured. CBO also predicts the bills will reduce the deficit by $138 billion in the first ten years, and by an estimated $1.2 trillion in the second decade.

The bill text and CBO score are being studied by undecided Members of Congress, and the time to contact those Members is now. Click here for the latest NACHC Advocacy Alert, and stay tuned for additional information on process and timing in the days to come.