Congress passed a stop-gap bill in late September that avoided a government shutdown when fiscal year (FY) 2020 began on October 1 by funding the government through November 21. The current belief on Capitol Hill is that Congress will now pass a short-term bill to fund the government through some time in December, giving them time to work out an agreement for the rest of FY 2020.

However, other scenarios are possible. First, Congress could pass a bill that funds the government into 2021. If Congress decides to only fund the government into December, they could fail to come to an agreement on a full-year package by then and have to pass another short-term measure. Additionally, the House’s impeachment inquiry, and a potential impeachment trial in the Senate, could complicate Congress’ entire agenda, including the appropriations process.

GNYHA has aggressively pushed for the inclusion of our legislative priorities during the appropriations process. Our top priority is a 2.5-year repeal of the Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) cuts, and we also support graduate medical education (GME) cap relief via the inclusion of the Opioid Workforce Act of 2019 (H.R. 3414) in any appropriations bill.

Congress could also use Federal spending bills as vehicles for other health care priorities. The most recent stop-gap funding bill contained a health care extenders package, which included funding through November 21 for the Medicaid DSH program and community health centers.

We expect similar extenders in the next stop-gap measure, but it is by no means certain. It could also be passed as either a standalone or in a different package. It is also possible that surprise billing legislation and drug pricing reform could be included in a full-year spending bill. GNYHA continues to push on Capitol Hill for surprise billing legislation that addresses providers concerns. It is essential that Congress doesn’t use hospital cuts to fund any of these proposals.

We will keep our members apprised of any relevant developments.