On Friday, President Donald Trump signed into law the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 (H.R. 3877). The legislation—negotiated by the Trump Administration and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)—will increase the automatic budget caps that were set to go into effect for Federal fiscal years (FY) 2020 and 2021, and increase the debt ceiling. The Senate passed the legislation by a 67-28 vote, and the House by a 284-149 vote.

The legislation increases Federal spending caps over current levels by $50 billion and over the next two years by $54 billion, amounting to a $320 billion increase in Federal spending over the levels that the budget caps originally mandated. Congress will have to pass a budget by the start of FY 2020, which begins on October 1, to avoid a government shutdown. It was imperative that Congress took action on the debt ceiling, as Treasury Department officials estimated that it needed to be lifted as early as mid-September to prevent the Federal government from defaulting on loans.

The bill includes just over $70 billion in budgetary offsets, including an extension of the Medicare sequester for two years, meaning it is now in effect until FY 2029. Notably, the deal also includes $2.5 billion for the US Census, which is set to begin early next year. The Census results will determine the number of Congressional seats per state and the state share of Federal funding for 2023-32. It is therefore essential that the Census is accurate. GNYHA will work with our allies at the State level to assist efforts to ensure an accurate count in New York.

Additionally, the Senate adjourned and began its August recess on Thursday afternoon. Both the House and Senate will remain in recess through September 14. The FY 2020 budget will be the main priority when both bodies of Congress return to Washington. GNYHA will remain deeply engaged in the budget process to ensure that no hospital cuts are enacted, and we will advocate tirelessly for the inclusion of our legislative priorities.

Important health care issues such as surprise billing and prescription drug costs could be on Congress’s agenda in the month of September.