Wednesday, October 28, 2015

House Set to Vote on Bipartisan Budget Proposal

Drew Thies

Late Monday night, the White House and Congressional Leadership released the text of a two-year bipartisan budget agreement. Called the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, it would raise spending caps, increase the debt limit and offset higher discretionary spending through various spending cuts and revenue increases.

The announcement came as a surprise to many, as government funding does not expire until December 11th. The proposed legislation would increase discretionary spending, funding the government for nearly two years, through fiscal year 2017, which expires in September of the same year.

More urgently, the agreement also suspends the debt ceiling until March 2017. The Treasury has indicated that action will need to be taken on the debt limit before November 3rd in order to avoid a national default.

The legislation contains only one pay-for that affects skilled nursing: an extension of the Medicare sequester at its current rate for an additional year, to 2025. It contains no immediate cuts to long term/post-acute care providers. Additional heath care pay-fors include ACA modifications, drug rebate changes, and a site neutral hospital proposal.

Additionally, the proposal includes a cap on Medicare Part B premium increases, providing relief to beneficiaries facing an increase next year and in 2017, if necessary, was well as extends the solvency of the Social Security disability insurance trust fund.

The House Rules committee readied the bill for consideration on the House floor as soon as today. There has been opposition, namely from conservative Republicans, but the agreement looks as if it will advance after concerns about its savings were addressed Tuesday.

Several changes were made late Tuesday night to fix problems with savings the bill generated after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) indicated the legislation would spend more than it saved.

AHCA will urge Members of Congress to pass this legislation funding the government while easing further funding risks to the post-acute sector through September 2017.

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