Senate Approves Health Spending Bill Ahead of Looming Shutdown

The U.S. Senate passed a government spending bill that boosts funding for scientific research and public health programs. The plan received bipartisan support within the Senate, as well as praise from stakeholders in the medical community.

The new bill increases the National Institutes of Health budget by $2 billion, with much of the new money dedicated to supporting research into cancer and Alzheimer disease. The spending plan also contains additional funding to continue the fights against opioid addiction and maternal mortality and measures aimed at improving telehealth and health information technology.

The House of Representatives has yet to finalize its own plan or consider the Senate bill. Both houses of Congress must agree on a funding bill to submit to President Donald J. Trump by September 30 to avoid a shutdown of the Department of Health and Human Services and other government agencies.

Advocacy groups, including the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the American Heart Association, expressed enthusiasm for the Senate’s budget proposal. Darrell Kirch, MD, president and CEO of AAMC, said in a statement that the plan would “make America more competitive in science and technology,” and urged the House to quickly pass a similar bill ahead of the September shutdown deadline.

Sources: MedPage Today, August 24, 2018; Politico, August 24, 2018.