Before adjourning at the end of December, Congress passed two spending bills to keep most programs and federal agencies funded through October 1, 2020. However, several health care related provisions are only funded through May 22, setting the stage for a busy spring agenda focused on health care issues. In addition to reauthorizing the extenders that will expire in mid-May, Congress is expected to hit the ground running in January with a long to-do list of priorities, including surprise billing, prior authorization, and prescription drug prices, which the White House and both political parties consider must-pass issues.
The spending bills provide funding for several programs and initiatives that the American College of Surgeons (ACS) supports, including the following:
- Authorizes $25 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for firearms research.* This historic victory follows a calculated advocacy agenda created and led by surgeon advocates and the ACS Division of Advocacy and Health Policy and Committee on Trauma Firearm Strategy Team (FAST) Workgroup. The ACS maintains that a nonpartisan public health research agenda to address firearm safety should examine issues such as safe storage and safe use, violence intervention and control, serious mental illness and firearm violence, and improved treatment of patients injured by firearms.
- Extension of the Work Geographic Practice Cost Index (GPCI) 1.0 Base. At present, Medicare GPCIs are calculated using inaccurate and outdated numbers that underestimate the cost of practicing in non-urban areas. A 1.0 GPCI floor, meaning that no geographic region will have an index value below 1.0 when its reimbursements are adjusted to account for relative value physician wage costs, was in place through 2019. The spending bills extend 1.0 GPCI floor until May 22, 2020. The ACS supports the Keeping Physicians Serving Patients Act, H.R. 3302, which would improve the way GPCIs are calculated to better support rural surgeons and set a permanent minimum value for GPCIs.
- Full reauthorization of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) through September 30, 2029.* PCORI was established in 2010 under the Affordable Care Act as an independent, not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization to fund research on clinical effectiveness, health care delivery and disparities, and evaluation and analysis with the goal of offering patients the information needed to make important health care decisions. PCORI grants focus on research that seeks to assess prevention, diagnosis, and treatment options; improve health care systems; address disparities; communication and dissemination; and accelerate patient-centered outcomes and methodological research.
- Increases funding for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention. $8 billion in total funding—an increase of more than $900 million.
The ACS Commission on Cancer is a member of One Voice Against Cancer (OVAC), a broad coalition of health care organizations working to make funding for cancer research and prevention programs a top priority. The spending bills appropriate funding for cancer programs at ACS and OVAC-requested levels, as follow:
- NIH: $41.68 billion in funding—an increase of $2.6 billion*
- National Cancer Institute: $6.24 billion—an increase of more than $200 million
- CDC Cancer Funding: $410 million
- $5.1 million for cancer registries
- Other cancer-related appropriations, including the following:
- $50 million in new funding for the Childhood Cancer Data Initiative
- $25 million in new, targeted funding for the Childhood Cancer STAR Act*
- $195 million in funding the Cancer Moonshot Initiative
- Reauthorizes the Breast Cancer Research Stamp for eight years*
- Sets the minimum age for tobacco and e-cigarette sales at 21 years old
For more information about the appropriations bills or ACS’ appropriations priorities, contact Amelia Suermann, ACS Congressional Lobbyist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Denotes long-term ACS advocacy priority