Spending bill funds healthcare initiatives to fight opioid abuse, create telehealth center

Bill gives no guarantee of funding for cost-sharing reduction payments, viewed by insurers as crucial to stabilizing ACA premiums.
By Susan Morse
03:08 PM
healthcare bill no guarantee of cost-sharing reduction payments

The spending bill hammered out by lawmakers Sunday night is considered a win for Democrats, and gives $50 million to fight opioid abuse, but is flat for insurers looking for stability in the Affordable Care Act market.

As expected, the bill includes no guarantee of Congressional funding for cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers.

The CSR payments, which insurers have said are necessary to stabilize premiums in the ACA market, remain intact for now.

There is no money included for the risk corridors program of the ACA, which is currently budget neutral and in litigation by numerous insurers.

It also includes no discretionary spending under the Affordable Care Act, funding that includes grants for training, retention and workforce development.

The bill funds the government through September. Lawmakers avoided a government shutdown Friday by passing a stop-gap measure through Friday, May 5. The spending bill is expected to go to a vote this week.

The spending bill does not cut funds to Planned Parenthood but continues the restriction on using those funds for abortions.

On the 340B drug program, the bill requests the Health Resources & Services Administration to provide a briefing to the appropriations committee on the status within 90 days of the bill's enactment.

It gives $50 million for opioid treatment, prevention and awareness. This is to encourage medical schools and teaching hospitals to enhance the curricular content on abuse and pain management for future prescribers and to provide education and training to medical schools and teaching hospitals.

With $500 million authorized by the 21st Century Cures Act, the bill increases funding for addiction to $650 million, Politico said.

It gives another $50 million for mental health services.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration gets $3.6 billion -- $130.5 million more than the Obama administration sought, Politico said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gets $7.3 billion, which includes appropriations and transfers from the ACA Prevention and Public Health Fund, and another $42 million for expanded efforts on combating prescription drug abuse, Politico said.

It gives $800,000 to the dental faculty loan repayment program.

It also includes more than $80 million for a maternal and child health block grant for Special Projects of Regional and National Significance. This includes $5.2 million for oral health, $3.6 million for epilepsy, $3 million for sickle cell disease and $477,000 for fetal alcohol syndrome.

It gives $47 million for a program on autism and other developmental disorders.

It provides $65.5 million for rural health outreach.

It gives $1.5 million for telehealth for HRSA to develop a plan to create a telehealth center of excellence to test the efficacy of telehealth services in both urban and rural locations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gets $6 billion, which includes $35 million in emergency funding for Flint, Michigan due to the water crisis there, and another $394 million to prevent and respond to the Zika virus.

It gives the National Institutes of Health a $2 billion funding increase, for a total $34 billion, according to Politico. The National Institutes of Health is the Department of Health and Human Services' medical research agency. Among the NIH initiatives is precision medicine, a medical model that tailors medical decisions, practices, or products to the individual patient.

HHS gets $73.5 billion, an increase of $2.8 billion, of which $2 billion goes to NIH.

It keeps the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology flat at around $60 million, according to Politico.

The Agency for Health Research and Quality gets $324 million under the plan, a $10 million drop in its current funding levels, Politico said.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse

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