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House, Senate Continue Work on Labor-HHS Funding Bills

Capitol Connector
Your source for the latest updates from Capitol Hill. We translate policy into practice so you can learn how policy trends will affect your work and how best to prepare.

Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

House, Senate Continue Work on Labor-HHS Funding Bills

June 25, 2015 | Federal Budget | Comments
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Appropriations season rolled on in Washington this week with both House and Senate appropriators making progress in setting funding levels for fiscal year 2016. In the House, the full Appropriations Committee approved its version of the Health and Human Services funding bill which would cut $3.7 billion from labor, health, and education programs overall, but would increase funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) by $23 million. In the Senate, the Appropriations Labor-HHS Subcommittee approved its spending bill containing similar overall cuts ($3.6 billion decrease to labor, health, and education programs), and slashing SAMHSA funding by $159 million. That bill now heads to the full Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.

Final spending levels in the House Appropriations Committee bill include:

  • Center for Substance Abuse Treatment: $2.197 billion (+$12.998 million vs. 2015)
  • Center for Substance Abuse Prevention: $190.2 million (+$15.071 million vs. 2015)
  • Center for Mental Health Services: $1.074 billion (-$5.000 million vs. 2015)
  • Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant: $1.819 billion (Level funding vs 2015)
  • Mental Health Block Grant: $482 million (Level funding vs. 2015)
  • SAMHSA Health Surveillance and Program Support: $181.7 million (-$12.169 million vs. 2015)
  • Primary and Behavioral Health Integration: $43.000 million (-$6.000 million vs. 2015)
  • Mental Health First Aid: $14.963 million (Level funding vs. 2015)

Notably, the House also released report language expanding the audiences to be trained in Mental Health First Aid. Currently, that funding is available only to school districts and other entities that work with youth; under the proposed House funding bill, it could also be used to train hospital system staff, law enforcement personnel, and emergency medical services units.

The final House committee bill maintains a nearly $300 million increase for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including an increase of $1.1 billion for the National Institutes of Health and an increase of $140 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, the bill also included major cuts to other health care programs, including terminating all funding for the Agency for Health Research and Quality and prohibiting funding from being used to implement the Affordable Care Act. This bill now heads to the House floor for consideration by the full chamber.

On the Senate side, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee’s bill included only limited details on the proposed SAMHSA funding changes, including:

  • Mental Health Block Grant: $482 million (Level funding vs. 2015)
  • Mental Health Programs of Regional and National Significance: $378.6 million (Level funding vs. 2015) Note: These programs include Mental Health First Aid, Project Aware and the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training grants.
  • Fighting Opioid and Abuse Efforts through CDC and SAMHSA: $67 million (+$35 million vs. 2015
  • Mental Health First Aid: $14.963 million (Level funding vs. 2015)
  • Primary and Behavioral Health Care Integration: $49.877 million (Level funding vs. 2015)
  • Primary and Behavioral Health Care Integration Technical Assistance: $1.991 million (Level funding vs. 2015)

Additional line-item details about the SAMHSA budget may become available during the next phases of the Senate appropriation’s bill consideration.

Once the full Senate Appropriations Committee approves the Labor-HHS-Education bill, it will go to the floor for consideration with the rest of the Senate chamber. Any discrepancies in the final funding numbers between House and Senate appropriation bills must be settled in conference committees before they can be signed by the President. The National Council continues to monitor appropriations activity and will keep you updated here in the Capitol Connector.