Congress Expected to Pass Omnibus Spending Bill, Averting Shutdown
Both the House and Senate are expected to pass the fiscal year 2012 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, which includes the nine unfinished appropriations bills from this year, including the Labor, HHS spending bill that funds NIH, CDC and CMS. The legislation assumes that NIH will support the same number of scientifically meritorious research project grants as last year by providing $30.7 billion in funding — $299 million above last year’s level, but $758 million below the president’s request. The legislation also provides $6.1 billion to the CDC, which is an increase of $38 million over last year’s levels. The agreement provides critical funding for the Department of Defense’s Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program that funds colorectal cancer research programs and the Veteran’s Affairs research programs.
The House and Senate also are working diligently to reach a deal on a temporary fix to the Medicare physician payment formula to prevent the 27 percent cut in reimbursements from being implemented on Jan. 1, 2012. The package will be tied to other items, such as extending the payroll tax and unemployment benefits. As of this writing, negotiators are discussing a one year fix to the sustainable growth rate formula (SGR), but have also discussed a more short term, one month fix in the event that negotiations break down.
This situation is extremely fluid, but both sides would like to reach an agreement this weekend. AGA continues to push a long term SGR fix with legislators since each year they fail to produce a long term solution, the deeper it increases deficit spending.
Stay tuned for more updates on these issues critical to gastroenterology on the AGA Washington Insider.