• Sun. Apr 14th, 2024

Appropriations Approaching Finish Line, Major Health Changes Excluded

BySamantha Johnson

Mar 23, 2024
Appropriations Approaching Finish Line, Major Health Changes Excluded

The agreement reached by lawmakers on Friday increases funding for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to $116.8 billion for fiscal 2024, which is a slight bump from the previous enacted level of $115.4 billion. Despite budget caps limiting the increase, an across-the-board 1 percent sequester cut was avoided by reaching this agreement.

Many contentious health changes were stripped out of the $1.2 trillion government funding bill, including reforms to the pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) industry and hospital payment changes. These major legislative changes are expected to be revisited in a year-end “lame duck” session, as members failed to come to a last-minute agreement on them.

Lawmakers worked to exclude controversial anti-abortion riders that House Republicans had inserted into several major spending bills. Additionally, investments in Alzheimer’s research were highlighted, with the National Institutes of Health receiving a $300 million increase in base funding, $100 million of which will go towards Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias research.

The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a program aimed at combating HIV and AIDS abroad, was granted a one-year extension through March 2025 without any anti-abortion restrictions sought by conservatives. This marks the first year since its inception that the program was not reauthorized for five years.

As the midnight deadline for funding approached, Congress worked to finalize the agreement before any lapses in funding occurred. Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden emphasized the challenges of reaching an agreement with numerous stakeholders involved, but noted that the work is not done yet and further progress is needed in the House.

By Samantha Johnson

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