President Trump late Thursday signed into law a stopgap spending bill (HR3055) that averts a government shutdown by funding the federal government, including various health programs, through Dec. 20.
The Senate on Thursday voted 72-40 to approve the measure and send it to Trump. The House had approved the measure on Tuesday.
The stopgap measure, known as a continuing resolution, gives lawmakers more time to negotiate the individual fiscal year (FY) 2020 spending bills that would update funding levels for 15 federal departments, including HHS, and dozens of federal agencies by extending federal funding at current levels through Dec. 20.
The stopgap measure includes extensions for several public health programs. For instance, the measure extends funding through Dec. 20 for:
- A federal contract with the National Center for Benefits and Outreach and Enrollment;
- A federal contract with the National Quality Forum to develop quality measures in Medicare and Medicaid;
- Aging and Disability Resource Centers;
- Area Agencies on Aging;
- Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics;
- Certified Community Health Centers;
- The National Health Service Corps;
- The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund;
- State Health Insurance Assistance Programs;
- Teaching health centers' graduate medical education programs;
- The Special Diabetes Program; and
- The Special Diabetes Program for Indians.
The bill also extends federal Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories.
In addition, the bill delays $4 billion in scheduled cuts to Medicaid disproportionate-share hospital payments through Dec. 20. Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) earlier this week said he expects a full spending agreement for FY 2020 would further delay those planned payment cuts.
Another funding deadline looms
While the continuing resolution gives lawmakers more breathing room for now, Congress will have to approve and President Trump will have to sign either another temporary spending measure or final FY 2020 spending measures by the end of the day on Dec. 20 to again avoid a government shutdown.
Congress in August approved a two-year budget deal that raised the U.S. debt ceiling, set new federal spending levels, averted $125 billion in automatic spending cuts, and opened the door for negotiations on individual appropriations measures for FY 2020, which began Oct. 1. However, lawmakers still must approve 12 full appropriations measures that lay out specific funding levels for federal departments and agencies, including HHS, for FY 2020.
According to the Washington Post, negotiations on those measures have stalled because of disagreements between Democratic and Republican lawmakers, including differences over funding Trump is seeking for a barrier to be constructed along the U.S.-Mexico border. HR3055 is the second continuing resolution Congress has passed to extend funding for FY 2020 at current levels while lawmakers work to advance the full appropriations measures (Grisales, NPR, 11/21; Werner, Washington Post, 11/21; Foran/Barrett, CNN, 11/21; Scholtes/Emma, Politico, 11/21).