2015 HHS Appropriations On Hold After Subcommittee Markup
Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over healthcare released its proposed fiscal year 2015 funding levels for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). While program-level detail is not yet available, the top-line numbers held few surprises for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Overall, the subcommittee allocated $3.578 billion to SAMHSA activities, $11.2 million more than the President’s request but $42 million less than in 2014. This cut appears to be principally the result of a reduction in Prevention and Public Health Fund monies that have been used to fund or supplement certain SAMHSA programs. However, until more detailed information becomes available, it is unclear which programs may experience cuts as a result of the reduction in Prevention Fund money.
Meanwhile, both the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant and the Mental Health Block Grant received level funding compared to 2014. The subcommittee provided a $6.1 million increase for Programs of Regional and National Significance within the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention and a $23.9 million increase for Programs of Regional and National Significance within the Center for Mental Health Services. Information on funding levels for specific programs is not yet publicly available.
Each year, HHS appropriations are bundled together with the Departments of Labor and Education in the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill, which makes up about a third of all discretionary spending outlined in the 12 appropriations bills. Because it is one of the largest and most contentious bills, Labor-HHS-Education typically faces the most challenges en route to passage.
Though the appropriations bill had been scheduled for consideration by the full Senate Appropriations Committee today, Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) announced that future plans for the bill are now “under review.” Committee member Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) added that he “didn’t know” when the bill would move: “We hoped to do it this week, but it’s got some issues to resolve.”
The House has not yet passed its version of the Labor-HHS-Education bill. Legislators in both chambers have expressed a desire to pass the spending bills this summer so that they will not face a repeat of last year’s October government shutdown. Yet, with the midterm elections looming, it may be difficult for members to reach consensus.