Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Senate Labor-HHS appropriations bill boosts funds for rural tele-health programs, measures to fight opioid epidemic

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $179.3 billion Labor and Health and Human Services bill last week that includes $25.5 million in funding for existing rural tele-health programs and adds almost $150 million in direct funding to fight the opioid epidemic.

The bill "directly contradicts the White House's demand earlier this year for a more than 20 percent cut to HHS' discretionary funding for fiscal 2019, and follows the upper chamber's rejection last week of President Donald Trump's request for $15 billion in rescissions," Susannah Luthi reports for Modern Healthcare. "The bill exceeds the House health spending measure . . . by more than $2 billion."

Overall opioid epidemic spending in the bill is at $3.7 billion, which includes $200 million for community health centers, $120 million for rural communities, $150 for community behavioral health centers (a $50 million increase), and $1.5 billion in flexible funding for states, Luthi reports.

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