House Appropriators Advance Health Spending Bill for FY2017
Last Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee approved a $161.6 billion Labor-Health and Human Services (HHS) spending bill for Fiscal Year 2017. This bill is responsible for funding the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others. The approved bill represents a $500 million decrease in overall funding for these programs compared to FY2016 and nearly $3 billion below the levels requested by President Obama.
Many funding levels from the subcommittee-approved bill were adopted by the full committee, including:
- Opioid and Heroin Epidemic: $581 million to address opioid and heroin abuse, including $500 million for a first-ever comprehensive state grant program that will address the opioid epidemic nationwide. Also, in the funding bill is an additional $90 million through the CDC to expand efforts for prescription drug abuse prevention and treatment services.
- Mental Health First Aid – $15 million, level funding to FY2016.
- Substance Abuse Block Grant: $1.8 billion, level funding to FY2016.
- Criminal justice related activities: $78 million, level funding to FY2016. This includes $60 million for drug courts.
Despite these encouraging figures, the final bill did recommend cuts to important initiatives like Primary and Behavioral Health Care Integration – which would see its budget cut nearly in half to a $26 million dollar appropriation for FY2017. The National Council remains diligent in its advocacy to protect this appropriation and ensure level funding for this important program moving forward.
This is the second time in two years that the full committee has advanced a Labor-HHS appropriations bill, although a bill has not reached the House floor for debate since 2009. This year’s measure is likely to face the same fate as last year’s, which was merged into a larger last-minute spending measure. Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) commented shortly after the bill passed, “We’ll come back and pass all these bills on the floor when we come back in town in September.”
The deadline for the spending bills is September 30, leaving a crunched timeline for action when Congress returns from recess. As previously reported in Capitol Connector, an omnibus spending package is likely for the next year.