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The Omnibus Spending Bill: Winners & Losers

Blair Burnett, ACCC Policy Analyst

March 27, 2018
Gavel and stethoscope

Healthcare stays in flux as Congress passed an omnibus spending bill this past Friday, March 23, funding the federal government through September 2018.

While many healthcare provisions made their way into the budget, including increased funding for the opioid epidemic, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there was no inclusion of a market stabilization bill for Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces. The ACA stabilization package was introduced to attempt to drive down premium increases, which are expected to rise by about 30 percent in 2019 without stabilization measures.

Here are some top-line takeaways for healthcare within the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill:

  • $10 billion increase in overall funding to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
  • Allocation of $3.6 billion to combat the nation’s opioid epidemic in 2018. This funding is twice as much money as was allocated in 2017. In addition, this increase in funding provides $130 million for a new Rural Communities Opioids Response program to support treatment and prevention, focusing on the needs of rural communities across the country.
  • Allocation of $3.2 billion for mental healthcare services. These funds signal a 17 percent increase in funding from 2017. This provision also includes $100 million in new funding to support the ongoing Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic program. This program, active in only eight states, is working to expand access to comprehensive and evidence-based mental health and addiction care.
  • $5.1 billion increase in overall funding to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—$483 million more than fiscal 2017. This increase includes $996 million in funding for the 21st Century Cures Act, a 2014 bill designed to push for and accelerate medical innovations.
  • $3 billion increase in overall funding to the NIH.
  • $1.1 billion increase in overall funding to the CDC. This bill also gives CDC the authority to study gun violence, its causes, and prevention strategies as a public health issue.
  • No inclusion of an ACA market stabilization bill from legislation previously proposed by Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Senator Patty Murray of Washington. The stabilization bill was intended to address current and future disruptions to ACA markets due to the repeal of the healthcare law's individual mandate within the GOP tax bill in 2017; however, the package was blocked over a dispute about the expansion of abortion restrictions.

ACCC is continuing to monitor how the most recent omnibus bill will affect cancer care providers and their patients. Stay tuned for updates as we continue to analyze this legislation.

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