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.


OMB Report on Fiscal Year 2016 Appropriations Bills

The House of Representatives’ fiscal year 2016 appropriations bills exceed the $493.5 billion statutory cap on non-defense spending by $1.8 billion and the $523 billion cap on defense spending by $3 million, according to a new report from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Senate appropriations come in at $1 million over the defense-spending cap. In order to avoid the Administration imposing across the board spending cuts, Congress will have to rework the funding bills and agree upon spending levels at or below the statutory caps. Otherwise, the House, Senate, and White House would have to reach a budget deal that raises the caps, in a manner similar to the 2013 budget agreement negotiated by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). To date, the House has passed six appropriations bills and marked up the remainder of the twelve spending bills. For the first time in six years, the Senate has marked up all twelve bills, but has not yet considered any on the floor. Senate Democrats have vowed to block any spending bills that adhere to sequestration spending levels, and are joined by the White House in pushing for a new budget deal that raises the caps.

Democrats Continue Push for Budget Negotiations

With less than two months remaining in this fiscal year, Democrats in the Senate have sent a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) urging him to schedule bipartisan budget negotiations immediately. “Inaction and failure to responsibly restore sequester-level cuts in FY 16 appropriations bills will have real consequences for our country,” the letter says. “We cannot afford to wait, only to let delay and inaction bring us to the brink of another totally predictable and completely preventable crisis.” The letter was signed by all 46 members of the Democratic caucus, including its two independent members.

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