Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee passes funding bill.

The Senate Labor-HHS appropriations subcommittee today held a hearing and passed a FY 2018 funding bill. The bill provides $164.1 billion, $3 billion above FY17 funding levels. While we do not have full details on the bill there are a number of positive indications for rural health care.

The bill provides $160.6 million, a $4.5 million increase above FY2017, for rural health programs. Details are still forthcoming about the program specifics but NRHA is pleased the subcommittee recognizes the obstacles faced by patients and providers in rural communities and focuses resources toward efforts and programs to help rural communities.

The bill funds Area Health Education Centers (AHECs) at $32.8 million, a $2.5 million increase above FY2017. NRHA has continually worked to ensure these important programs that increase the number of primary healthcare providers practicing in rural and underserved communities are robustly funded and is pleased the subcommittee recognized the important work of AHECs.
The bill also provides $816 million, a $665 million or 440 percent increase since fiscal year 2016, for programs to combat opioid abuse at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). In light of the disproportionate impact of the opioid epidemic on rural communities NRHA applauds this strong support. We are hopeful this money will support rural communities in combatting opioid abuse and the impacts on rural communities.
 
A full Appropriations Committee hearing is scheduled for this Thursday, September 7. NRHA will continue to monitor the appropriations process as the full Committee considers this bill. We will update the blog with more information as it becomes available.