Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Congressional Leaders Reach Short-Term Spending Agreement

President Trump signed a short-term continuing resolution (CR) Monday, ending a three-day old shutdown funding the government until February 8.The Senate voted 81-18 to pass the measure, while the House voted 266-150.

The bill was based on negotiations between party leadership in the Senate, where a bill initially could not garner enough support to break the 60-vote threshold to avoid a filibuster. 

The new spending bill includes funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) but fails to address other issues that initially caused the shutdown.

All Democrats initially opposed any legislation that did not include measures to protect those under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which shields young undocumented immigrants from deportation. Senate Democrats who supported the new CR said they only did because they received assurances from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that immigration legislation would be passed prior to the next spending deal.

Mr. McConnell said Monday he would create a “level playing field” on which immigration negotiations can take place, but his assurances still were not enough to gain the votes of 16 Senate Democrats, who still opposed the new CR. Two Republicans, Mike Lee and Rand Paul, also voted “no.”

The legislation does not include any measures to address the “Medicare extenders,” which include the therapy caps exemption process. A longer-term budget deal in February may include such policies.

The lack of an extension adds to the uncertainty about beneficiary access to therapy services for a few more weeks. Historically, Congress has retroactively permitted the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to pay care providers for therapy provided over the cap threshold while exemption policy is being written and negotiated. The AHCA/NCAL legislative team is on Capitol Hill, monitoring developments and ensuring the profession's interests are not overlooked as budget negotiations continue.

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