Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Senate Set to Pass Budget, Wrap-Up Health Care Issues for 2013

By Drew Thies

The Senate voted Tuesday to cut off debate on the bipartisan budget deal, making final passage highly likely. A vote to send it to the President’s desk is expected by the end of the week.

The chamber agreed 67-33 to bypass the final procedural hurdle for the legislation, the result of the budget panel led by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).

The deal increases discretionary spending to $1.012 trillion for the current fiscal year and $1.014 trillion for FY 2015. It raises revenue through fee increases, avoiding hot-button issues such as tax hikes and entitlement reform, and replaces the upcoming round of across-the-board sequester cuts with a more targeted approach.

The debt ceiling, which will likely have to be raised this spring, is unaddressed in the deal.
A three-month physician payment patch, or doc-fix, is included. The stopgap measure will update doctors’ Medicare reimbursement through March, at which point new legislation will have to be passed.

Twelve Senate Republicans broke with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to vote with Democrats to cut off debate. Roy Blunt (R-MO) was the only member of Republican Senate Leadership to break ranks. Many Republicans with known primary challengers sided with party leadership.

Final passage of the budget deal will mean that major legislative health care decisions are effectively finalized for 2013, all without a major cut to skilled nursing or assisted living.

The AHCA Government Affairs team extends our utmost appreciation to all our advocates, without whom the successes of this year simply would not have happened.

Thank you to all who flew into DC, contributed to AHCA/NCAL PAC, responded to our Advocacy Alerts, hosted facility tours and in-district fundraisers, and simply stayed in touch with your Members of Congress. Every action, small or large, helps to keep our voice strong. This year, we proved that the voice of long term care is one that is not only heard, but followed on Capitol Hill.

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