Jan. 17—Congress cleared a $1.1 trillion spending bill this week that generally left previously set healthcare spending and cuts little changed.

The bill, which was passed by the Senate Thursday after the House passed it earlier this week, funds the federal government through Oct. 1.

The bill generally provides flat funding for implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), although there were some cuts. Specifically, $1 billion was cut from the automatic annual appropriation for the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the 2010 law, and $10 million was reduced for the controversial Independent Payment Advisory Board.

The Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education portion of the so-called omnibus rule includes $156.8 billion in discretionary funding, which is $100 million less than in FY13.

The measure also left unchanged the funding levels for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which is primarily responsible for implementing the ACA. The $3.7 billion included for CMS management and operations continued cuts under the sequester, which left the agency with $195 million less than FY13.

An additional $305 million was provided for CMS to speed up processing and payment of benefits in Medicare, but the bill included a limitation on the ability of U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to shift unused fund toward implementation of the ACA, which is a tactic she has extensively employed.

The $29.9 billion included in the bill for the National Institutes of Health was $1 billion more than FY13.

The bill appropriated $2.6 billion for the Food and Drug Administration, which is $217 million more than FY13.

Among the few relatively large increases in the bill was $700 million more for Community Health Centers (CHCs). The $3.6 billion total for CHCs included $350 million to create more than 450 new facilities and expand clinical services at existing health centers.

The bill included a $63 billion reduction in the sequester, but not among the provisions affecting healthcare providers.

Publication Date: Friday, January 17, 2014