President Signs Budget Agreement to Raise Debt Ceiling and Increase Spending Caps
November 3, 2015 10:59 AM
On Monday, November 2, President Barack Obama signed into law a budget agreement that increases the debt ceiling and raises caps on domestic and defense spending. The agreement will prevent the federal government from risking default (see previous NAHC Report article here) by raising the debt ceiling through mid-March 2017. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew had stated the deadline for raising the $18 trillion debt ceiling in order to prevent the risk of default was November 3.
The Senate passed the measure by a vote of 64-35 with one not voting, and the House passed the measure by a vote of 266-167 with two not voting. While some Republicans opposed the legislation, many including Republican leadership joined Democrats to support passage of the legislation. In one of his last acts before stepping down, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) helped negotiate and usher the agreement through Congress.
In addition to raising the debt ceiling, the legislation will serve as a framework to guide Congress in passing legislation to fund the federal government in the weeks to come. The date by which Congress must pass spending legislation in order to prevent a government shutdown is December 11. As the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) previously reported, the budget agreement lifts some of the uncertainty that hung over the heads of the home care and hospice community. However, the next step will be for Congress to develop and pass the spending legislation. NAHC is carefully monitoring that process for any proposals to impose home health copays or include payment rate cuts.
“Democrats and Republicans came together to set up a responsible, long-term budget process, and what we now see is a budget that reflects our values, that grows our economy, creates jobs, keeps America safe,” President Obama said.
“This is just the first step between now and the middle of December, before the Christmas break,” President Obama said. “The appropriators are going to have to do their job; they're going to have to come up with spending bills. But this provides them the guidepost and the baseline with which to do that. And I’m confident that they can get it done on time.”
Some lawmakers have raised the prospect of potential spending cuts, including cuts to programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. NAHC is carefully monitoring the negotiations over spending and opposes any offset that would imposehome health copays or include payment rate cuts.
Home health copays would be a “sick tax” on our most vulnerable seniors, and additional payment rate cuts on top of those that have already been implemented would directly impact access to care for Medicare home health beneficiaries. NAHC encourages you to contact your members of Congress using NAHC’s Legislative Action Center (click here), and ask them to oppose any home health copays or payment cuts to offset the cost of any legislation.