Status of the Continuing Resolution and Appropriations 2012

The status of the appropriations process for fiscal year (FY) 2011 remains in a state of flux. Both political parties have indicated a desire to finalize one last continuing resolution (CR) for the remainder of FY 2011 instead of passing multiple, short-term CRs. The current CR (PL 112-6) is set to expire on April 8. If the two political parties do not reach an agreement by then, a government shutdown will ensue.

Notwithstanding the status of affairs for the rest of FY 2011, the budget and appropriations process for FY 2012 have already begun. Due to the uncertain future for FY 2011, the baseline funding for many programs are being calculated based on FY 2010 figures. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) budget (available at http://www.hhs.gov/about/hhsbudget.html) calls for an overall increase from FY 2010 levels but would likely fall below the total outlay for FY 2011.

On March 30, 2011, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies. She focused on some of the challenges facing the department given the current fiscal situation as well as new goals for the next year. Child wellness programs, such as Head Start, fraud enforcement, and establishing effective payment methods were included in her list of goals.

During the hearing, subcommittee members focused on a wide array of issues. Important to the NRHA were the opening comments by Senator Shelby (R-AL) and the questioning of Secretary Sebelius by Senator Moran. Senator Shelby said, “There are numerous consolidations in the budget that eliminate formula funded grants which will result in the redirection of critical federal funds from smaller, rural states, to urban areas. We must continue to make certain that programs that are deemed competitive actually allow all states to compete on a level playing field.” He did not question Sebelius on any specifics to follow this comment up.

Senator Moran (R-KS) questioned Sebelius on the future of a carve-out plan for critical access hospitals (CAH) and their correlation to Independent Payment Advisory Boards (IPAB). Sebelius stated that CAHs are currently without an IPAB carve-out due to their unique 101% Medicare payment structure. She indicated a willingness to work with Moran on any of his further concerns moving forward.

If you have additional questions concerning the status of any legislation or the appropriations process for FY 2011 or 2012, please contact the NRHA Government Affairs staff at 202-639-0550.