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  • Washington Highlights

    House Appropriations Committee Approves Labor-HHS-ED FY 2020 Spending Bill

    Tannaz Rasouli, Sr. Director, Public Policy & Strategic Outreach
    Matthew Shick, Sr. Director, Gov't Relations & Regulatory Affairs
    Christa Wagner, Manager, Government Relations
    Brett Roude, Legislative Analyst

    The House Appropriations Committee May 8 approved its fiscal year (FY) 2020 spending bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) by a party line vote of 30-23. The committee also approved the 302(b) allocations for all twelve appropriations subcommittees by a party line vote of 30-22.

    Following committee passage, AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD, issued a statement of gratitude to the committee “for its investment in programs that will enable America’s medical schools and teaching hospitals to promote the nation’s health security,” including continued funding growth for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) while investing in new health care priorities. The AAMC also joined a May 7 higher education community letter in support of the spending bill.

    The committee adopted six amendments to the subcommittee-passed bill [see Washington Highlights, May 3]. Among the adopted amendments was a Manager’s Amendment offered by Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), which makes “non-controversial and bipartisan changes to the bill and report,” and was approved by voice vote.

    An amendment introduced by Chair DeLauro and passed by voice vote raised funding for the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Medical Student Education grants to public schools for graduate medical education to $40 million, and funding for Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers to $10 million. The amendment also directs the Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services to study the effects of the Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospitals (DSH) cuts on a hospital's ability to provide care for those who are uninsured and underserved, and its ability train and retain quality staff.

    The approved bill provides a program level of $41.084 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) — a $2 billion or 5.12% increase over the comparable FY 2019 level — which is the same level of funding as approved by the subcommittee on April 30. According to the report language released May 7, the bill provides an “across-the-board increase of approximately five percent for all Institutes and Centers [ICs]” to “[maximize] the across-the-board increase for all ICs, thereby ensuring a significant boost for the best peer-reviewed research across all scientific disciplines.”

    The funding allocations approved in the legislation includes $734.9 million for the HRSA’s Title VII health professions and Title VIII nursing workforce development programs, a $93.25 million (14.5%) increase over FY 2019 enacted levels. This includes increases for diversity pipeline program such as Health Careers Opportunity Program, which received $20 million in funding for FY 2020, a $5.8 million (41%) increase over FY 2019 levels. The bill would also provide increased funding for other HRSA programs such as $350 million for Children’s Hospital Graduate Medical Education, a $25 million (7.6%) increase over FY 2019 levels.

    The legislation included first-time funding for two programs authorized under Title VII dealing with substance use disorder (SUD). The new funding includes $25 million for the Loan Repayment Program for SUD Treatment Work, which provides loan payment options to individuals who serve in positions designated to combat SUD and $10 million Mental and SUD Workforce Training Demonstration, which provides grants to institutions and other health providers to support the training of medical residents and fellows in psychiatry and addiction medicine.

    The committee did not adopt nine additional amendments on a variety of issues, including an amendment offered by Rep. Andy Harris (D-Md.) that would eliminate federal support of research using human fetal tissue. Subcommittee Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-Okla.) withdrew an amendment which would provide $300 million for the National Institute of Aging and $60 HRSA Medical Student Program due to the already introduced increases for these programs.

    The Appropriations Committee will continue its consideration of the 11 additional spending bills, with the possibility of considering the committee-approved FY 2020 Labor-HHS bill on the House floor in June.