Hart Health Strategies provides a comprehensive policy briefing on a weekly basis. This in-depth health policy briefing is sent out at the beginning of each week. The health policy briefing recaps the previous week and previews the week ahead. It alerts clients to upcoming congressional hearings, newly introduced bills, regulatory announcements, and implementation activity related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and other health laws.


Labor-HHS-Education, AG-FDA Advance

The House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee approved its fiscal year (FY) 2016 spending bill by voice vote last week, with dissention from Democratic members. The bill would provide $153 billion in discretionary funding, which is $3.7 billion less than the current spending level and $14.6 billion less than requested in the President’s budget.

  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would receive a total of $71.3 billion, an increase of $298 million over previous spending levels but $3.9 billion lower than the President’s request.
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) would receive a $1.1 billion increase over 2015 spending levels, and $100 million more than the President requested. Notably, the NIH’s Institutional Development Awards Program, aimed at directing research money into rural states, would receive a 14 percent budget increase.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would receive $7 billion, a $140 million increase over the previous year and equal to the funding sought by the President. This includes an increase of $50 million over the current spending level to combat prescription drug abuse, totaling $70 million – $2 million more than sought by President Obama.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) would receive $3.3 billion, $344 million less than the current level and $949 million less than included in the President’s budget.
  • The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) would receive $6 billion, a decrease of $299 million compared to 2015 and $413 million less than requested by the President.
  • Through a special provision known as a bypass budget, Alzheimer’s research would receive an additional $300 million in funding. A bypass budget will allow the NIH to prepare a separate budget each year through FY 2025 based on the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • $100 million is appropriated for the President’s Antibiotic Resistance Initiative.


The spending bill would eliminate the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). An amendment to save the agency from Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) was rejected along party lines. House Labor-HHS-Education Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) defended the elimination of AHRQ citing its mission as duplicitous of work being done elsewhere in the federal government. The Labor-HHS-Education FY 2016 spending bill would prohibit the use of any new discretionary funding to implement the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The spending bill that will impact the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was advanced by the House Appropriations Agriculture, Rural Development, and FDA Subcommittee last week as well. The bill includes $2.6 billion in discretionary spending for the FDA and a total budget of $4.6 billion, $106 million more than FY 2015. This includes a $4.2 million increase for medical product safety. Appropriators continue to operate under sequestration ceilings in the writing of FY 2016 spending bills. In response, Democrats are threatening to filibuster spending bills that adhere to these caps in a push for bipartisan budget negotiations. Meanwhile, top Democrats in the Senate continue to demand that the majority schedule bipartisan budget negotiations to ease sequestration levels for the coming fiscal year. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other leaders of the Senate Republican Conference, including Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.), Republican Policy Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Vice Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) last week, continuing to urge Republicans to hold a budget summit as soon as possible.

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