Letters written to Congress in September lay out ACP priorities, including funding for the Health Resources Services Administration, AHRQ, CMS, CDC and NIH
Oct. 15, 2021 (ACP) – On Sept. 21, the House passed a continuing resolution to keep government agencies running through Dec. 3 and avoid a government shutdown. As Congress now negotiates full-year spending bills for the rest of 2022, the American College of Physicians remains focused on advocating legislators to support spending that prioritizes patients and physicians.
But ACP's advocacy team cautions that the next few months are going to be rocky. “Expect a bumpy ride as the uncertainty will continue as Congress tries to pass the fiscal year 2022 (FY2022) appropriations bills and address the debt ceiling, all the while trying to pass big infrastructure and reconciliation bills,” said Jared Frost, ACP senior associate of legislative affairs.
“Expectations are that the infrastructure and reconciliation bills could be resolved in the near future, or at least before December,” he added. “However, FY2022 appropriations may play out until December, the same month that the congressional agreement to raise the debt limit will expire.”
Here's the backdrop to the appropriations battle: As Frost explained, Congressional Democrats are working on passing the bipartisan infrastructure framework/bipartisan infrastructure bill, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. It has passed the Senate, but not the House. Meanwhile, the so-called reconciliation package, also known as the Build Back Better Act, has been released by the House. But Democrats have not agreed on the final amount or what policies will be included.
“The original amount was up to $3.5 trillion, but the expectation is that it will be lower in cost. Anywhere from $1.5 trillion to $2.5 trillion have been reported,” Frost said. “The reconciliation package is being negotiated now between congressional Democrats. It is not certain when or if an agreement will be reached, but it could happen in the near future.”
ACP wrote letters to congressional budget leaders in September urging them to heed its recommendations. Here are some of ACP's spending requests:
- Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA), $9.2 billion
- Title VII, Section 747, Primary Care Training and Enhancement (PCTE), HRSA, $71 million
- National Health Service Corps (NHSC), $860 million in total program funding
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), $500 million
- Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Program Operations for Federal Exchanges, $296.5 million
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), $10 billion
- Injury Prevention and Control, Firearm Injury and Mortality Prevention Research, $50 million
- National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Social Determinants of Health program, $153 million
- National Institutes of Health (NIH), $46.1 billion
“When and if any of the 12 appropriations bills become law, ACP is hopeful that its priorities will be well funded,” Frost said, although the budget situation remained up in the air in early October. “Only the House of Representatives has passed some of the 12 FY2022 appropriations bills, including the bill for the Health and Human Services,” he said. “The Senate has yet to release text of its FY2022 appropriations bills. But the House bill leaves ACP optimistic: AHRQ received a $42 million increase, the CDC received a $2.7 billion increase, the NIH received a $6.5 billion increase, the NHSC received a $65 million increase, and PCTE received a $1 million increase.”
For now, ACP will continue to monitor the debate over spending and make sure members of Congress know where ACP stands.