Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee Approves Funding Legislation
June 8, 2016 12:15 PM
On Tuesday, June 7, the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS) Appropriations Subcommittee approved a FY2017 funding bill for the Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies. Subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO) praised the legislation as the first bipartisan Senate Labor-HHS bill in seven years. The bill provides $161.9 billion in base discretionary spending, a figure $270 million below the FY2016 level and $2 billion below the President’s budget request for FY2017.
Included in the legislation was the Health Outcomes, Planning, and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer's Act of 2015 (S. 857), introduced by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Edward Markey (D-MA), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). The HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act would require the Medicare program to cover an initial comprehensive care plan for beneficiaries newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. In a press release, the Senators said the new benefit would encourage doctors to give a clear diagnosis to patients with Alzheimer’s disease, including information about treatment options and what medical and community services are available.
“Today’s vote is a positive step forward for the HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act and for those families affected by this heartbreaking disease,” said Senator Stabenow. “This bill will encourage doctors to detect Alzheimer’s earlier and ensure patients and families are better equipped to cope with the disease.”
“Having recently experienced the challenges of caring for parents with Alzheimer’s, I understand the difficulties that caregivers and family members face,” said Senator Capito. “We need to do more to improve the diagnosis of this disease and educate Americans about treatment options.”
“Early detection, a documented diagnosis and access to care planning services are key to helping ensure better outcomes for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers,” said Senator Markey. “The HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act gives patients exactly that, hope - for a diagnosis that will help them get connected to critical resources and manage other chronic conditions they are likely to face. It means patients, caregivers and families can learn what treatments are available and plan for the challenges that lie ahead.”
It is unclear whether the legislation will become law. The full Appropriations Committee is scheduled to consider it on Thursday, June 9. Moreover, any funding legislation would also need to be approved by the full U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
Also included in the Labor-HHS Appropriations bill:
$112.4 million, an increase of $5 million above FY2016, for the Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals to address the backlog of appeals.
A provision repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) created by the ACA. The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) has long supported legislation to repeal IPAB.
At the time of publication, the text of the Labor-HHS Appropriations bill was unavailable. However, a summary is available here. NAHC Report will provide additional details about the legislation as more information becomes available.