As reported in the September 19 Update, the Senate last week passed the House-Senate agreement to provide FY 2019 appropriations for the Department of Defense and the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. The bill (H.R. 6157) was approved by a vote of 93-7. The package also a “continuing resolution” to fund, until December 7, federal departments and agencies for which regular appropriations bills have not been enacted. The bill also reauthorizes, until December 7, the Violence Against Women Act. The House Rules Committee is scheduled to take up the bill on September 25, and the House is expected to pass it by the end of the week. See Senate Passes Defense and Health Spending Bill, Tries to Delay Border-Wall Fight to After Midterms (Washington Post, 9/18/18).

The bill provides an increase of $206 million (to $3.8 billion) to combat the opioid crisis and includes increases for several other programs of interest:

  • An increase of $26 million for the “Special Programs of Regional and National Significance” (SPRANS) portion of the MCH Block Grant to be used for specific maternal-health initiatives.
  • $10 million for a new CDC initiative to support collaboration with state, tribal, territorial, and local health departments to monitor mothers and babies impacted by the Zika virus during pregnancy in the highest-risk areas, and to pilot, in additional jurisdictions, a surveillance/registry system to capture data on Zika and other emerging public health threats to mothers and babies, such as opioid use during pregnancy and natural disasters.
  • $300,000 to establish and carry out the activities of the Family Caregiving Advisory Council created by the RAISE Family Caregivers Act, and $5 million for a “Care Corps” of volunteer caregivers.

The bill does not include some of the provisions sought by conservatives, including a blocks on funding for Planned Parenthood, administration of the Affordable Care Act, and fetal tissue research. It does include a “rescission” (cut) in funding budgeted for CHIP, but that cut will have no real-world impact because those funds would not have been spent. See Clearing Up Confusion about the Impact of the CHIP Funding Rescission in Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Conference Agreement (“Say Ahhh!” blog of the Georgetown Center on Children and Families, 9/19/18).

The bill text, conference committee’s “joint explanatory report,” and summaries of the bill can be found on the website of the House Committee on Appropriations.

Reallocation of FY 2018 Funds
Last week, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar notified congressional appropriators that the department plans to reallocate $266 million of FY 2018 funding to cover the rising cost of housing the undocumented immigrant children in government custody (about 13,000 children). Of this amount, about $80 million will be reallocated within the Office of Refugee Resettlement and $186.5 million will be taken from a number of other HHS programs, including $15.9 million from programs within the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Of that, $2.2 million will be taken from programs within the Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Programs within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will lose $16.7 million, including $474,000 from the National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. Details can be found in the attachments to the letter sent to congressional appropriators. See Health Advocates Decry Funding Transfer Over Migrant Children (The Hill, 9/23/18).

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