President Obama on Friday signed a spending package with several health care-related provisions, including some that affect the Affordable Care Act, the Los Angeles Times reports (Mascaro, Los Angeles Times, 12/18).
The package is a two-part agreement that consists of:
- A $1.1 trillion omnibus budget measure to fund federal agencies through fiscal year 2016; and
- A $650 billion tax package that renews for the next 10 years various tax breaks that had ended or were about to expire (California Healthline, 12/17).
The House on Thursday voted 318-109 to pass the tax package (AP/Modern Healthcare, 12/18). The House then on Friday voted 316-113 to pass the spending bill (Los Angeles Times, 12/18). The measures were combined and sent to the Senate, which on Friday voted 65-33 to pass the package and send it to Obama (Bolton, “Floor Action,” The Hill, 12/18).
The agreement includes several measures that affect the implementation of the ACA. The package:
- Delays for two years the implementation of the ACA’s so-called “Cadillac” tax, which had been set to take effect in 2018;
- Halts the law’s medical device tax, which has already taken effect, for 2016 and 2017;
- Suspends the law’s health insurance tax for one year;
- Extends a measure that prevents the federal government from shifting funds to pay for the ACA’s risk corridors program; and
- Blocks FDA from implementing before Dec. 1, 2016, an ACA rule that would require restaurants to place calorie counts on their menus.
In addition, the agreement renews a program that provides health care and financial compensation to rescue workers who responded to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The agreement also boosts NIH’s funding for medical researchers by $2 billion for FY 2016. The funding boost includes:
- $350 million for research related to Alzheimer’s disease; and
- $200 million for precision medicine research.
The agreement does not include:
- A provision to strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood; and
- Language that would eliminate a budget provision that prohibits CDC and NIH from spending money on research related to gun violence (California Healthline, 12/16).
Following the agreement’s passage through Congress, Obama thanked lawmakers for their work to approve the package.
He said, “I’m not wowed about everything in it — I’m sure that’s true for everybody — but it is a budget that, as I insisted, invests in our military and our middle class without ideological divisions” (Los Angeles Times, 12/18).