$1.7T spending bill gets support, some criticism from healthcare groups


The House of Representatives passed the $1.7 trillion spending bill Friday, which drew mixed reactions from healthcare industry associations.

The legislation, which passed the Senate on Thursday, includes a number of healthcare policy adjustments that range from easing Medicare cuts to guaranteeing 12 months of continuous eligibility for children covered under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. It also extends telehealth waivers enacted as part of the CARES Act in 2020 until Dec. 31, 2024. It heads to President Joe Biden’s desk where he has said he will sign it into law.

Here are some statements from associations.

  • “We applaud Congress for passing the omnibus package which includes key Medicaid and CHIP policies that will fortify health coverage for low and middle-income individuals and families,” said a national coalition representing the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Association for Community Affiliated Plans, Children’s Hospital Association, Community Catalyst, Families USA, First Focus Campaign for Children, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Those policies include 12 months of continuous eligibility for children covered under Medicaid and CHIP, permanent extension of the state option to provide 12 months of postpartum coverage for those enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP, a two-year funding extension for CHIP and Medicaid and CHIP coverage of screening diagnostic, referral, and care coordination services to incarcerated juveniles 30 days prior to their release.
  • “The continuous eligibility provisions of the bill will mean that parents with low incomes can seek some additional work without moment-to-moment concerns about losing their kids’ health insurance, and will also help hundreds of thousands of kids get needed checkups or specialty care visits that they otherwise would have skipped,” the Association for Community Affiliated Plans said.
  • “By making safe, FDA-approved non-opioid pain management options more accessible, Congress is allowing patients and families to work with their providers to have a choice in how they manage their pain,” said Chris Fox, executive director of the Voices for Non-Opioid Choices Coalition. The NOPAIN Act, which was included in the spending bill, will expand patient and provider access to FDA approved, non-opioid pain management treatment in outpatient surgical settings starting in 2025 and would require a report to Congress on the limitations, gaps, barriers to access or deficits in reimbursement, the coalition said.
  • “Now, as telehealth has proven to be an often lifesaving and widely valued option for millions of Americans, our Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle have taken appropriate action to ensure these services will remain in place for the next two years, while we seek permanent legislation on the state and federal levels,” said Kyle Zebley, senior vice president of public policy, American Telemedicine Association.
  • “While the omnibus spending package mitigates 6.5% of Medicare payment cuts originally slated to take effect in 2023, physicians still face a 2% reduction in the 2023 Medicare conversion factor. The implementation of these cuts threatens the healthcare promises made to seniors and, left uncorrected, will reduce access to timely care for many,” said Dr. Tochi Iroku-Malize, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.


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