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August 7, 2009


August 7, 2009

Senate Committee Nearing Agreement on Health Reform Overhaul

The Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Baucus (D-MT), is getting closer to agreement on its healthcare reform legislation. Committee members, particularly the "group of six," consisting of Chairman Baucus, ranking member Sen. Grassley (R-IA), and Sens. Conrad, (D-N.D), Snowe (R-ME), Bingaman (D-NM), and Enzi (R-WY) are expected to continue working throughout August to produce a bill in September. The bill that the Finance Committee produces will be merged with the bill passed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in June.

One of the key areas of negotiation is on Medicare payment decisions. Finance members appear to have agreed on having the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, or a subgroup of the commission, provide recommendations to Congress on Medicare provider payment rates, which would be considered by Congress through an up or down vote.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired by Rep. Waxman (D-CA), passed its version of the bill on July 31, although when the House returns in September the committee will meet again to vote on a series of amendments to the bill.

Research: Senate Health Spending Bill Numbers Released

This week, details of the Senate's FY2010 health research and services spending bill, known as the Labor-HHS-ED Appropriations bill, were made available. The Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Rep. Inouye (D-HI), passed the bill on July 30. The bill provides $72.5 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services, $1.1 billion less than the House passed bill provides for the department.

Under the FY2010 Senate Labor-HHS-ED bill, the NIH would receive about a 1.4 percent funding increase, for a total funding level of $30.840 billion. This level is lower than the House-passed bill allocation for NIH of $31.2 billion. Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Inouye explained this difference between the House and Senate bill's funding of NIH by pointing out that most of the funding for the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) is being disbursed during fiscal year 2010, so as a result the committee is not providing additional large increases to those programs that received large adjustments under the ARRA, including NIH. Sen. Inouye stated, "The committee expects to put a higher priority on these critical programs in the fiscal year 2011 appropriations bill."

The Senate Labor-HHS bill puts a stronger focus on prevention than the House bill, and for this reason, the CDC is slated for a much larger increase under the Senate bill, from $6.671 billion in FY09 to $6.829 billion in FY2010, a 3 percent increase. The next step in the process for the health spending bill is a Senate floor vote, expected in the fall when the Senate returns from recess. Following the Senate bill's passage a House-Senate conference committee will work out differences with the House bill, which was passed by that chamber on July 24.

Below are tables of the funding levels for NIH institutes and CDC programs proposed under the House and Senate Labor-HHS-ED Appropriations bill. The tables cover FY08 to proposed FY10.



Points of Contact

Gary Ewart Senior Director, Government Relations
Nuala Moore Senior Legislative Representative
Joe Kirby DC Office Administrator