Extension of funding to May 2020 gives Congress the opportunity to act on prescription drug-pricing

WASHINGTON DC (December 17, 2019) Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles "Chuck" Grassley (R-IA) released the following statement regarding critical health program funding included in the year-end appropriations package. Senator Grassley and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) have been leading the charge to lower prescription drug-prices in Congress.

“This deal ensures funding for critical health programs won’t lapse and provides long-term certainty for some programs, including health research crucial to medical innovation and discovery. By extending some programs until May of next year, Congress will have the opportunity to act on prescription drug-pricing and finally make good on a promise nearly all of us have made,” Sen Grassley said. “The inclusion of the CREATES Act is a good first step toward addressing abuse and establishing a freer and fairer prescription drug marketplace, but much more must be done if Americans are truly going to see lower prices at the pharmacy counter any time soon.”

Funding for Medicare, Medicaid, and key human services programs are within the jurisdiction of the Senate Finance Committee. Background on funding provisions can be found below.

Funded until May 21, 2020:

Medicare:

  • Extension of the work geographic index floor that increases Medicare payments to rural health-care providers, a priority of Sen Grassley’s;
  • Extension of funding to support activities related to quality measurement and provider performance in the Medicare and Medicaid programs; and
  • Extension of funding for the Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) that helps low-income seniors with Medicare enrollment.

Medicaid:

  • Funding for Money Follows the Person program in Medicaid to help states provide transition services to help people move from nursing facilities to home or community-based settings;
  • Funding of a spousal impoverishment protection in Medicaid; and
  • Funding for the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic demonstration in Medicaid.

Human Services:

  • Funding of the Health Professions Opportunity Grant program; and
  • Extension of the Sexual Risk Avoidance Education and Personal Responsibility Education programs.

Longer-term funding:

10 Years: Extension of funding for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund, which funds the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), a government-sponsored non-profit that investigates the effectiveness of medical treatments to improve patient care,

  • Includes improvements from Sen Grassley to eliminate its funding being sourced from the Medicare Trust Fund, which is insolvent, and
  • Includes a provision for PCORI to better address issues faced by people with intellectual and development disabilities, an underserved population (disability costs in healthcare expenditures are $3.9 billion per year in Iowa, according to the CDC);

Two Years: Medicaid funding of territories.

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