Congress unveils $1.3T spending deal: 5 healthcare takeaways

Congressional negotiators reached a $1.37 trillion spending agreement Dec. 16, which would repeal several ACA taxes, delay payment cuts to disproportionate share hospitals and fund gun violence research.

Congress is expected to pass the legislation this week, ahead of the Dec. 20 government shutdown deadline, and send it to President Donald Trump for his signature. The spending agreement would fund the federal government through the end of fiscal year 2020.

Five healthcare takeaways from the year-end spending deal:

1. The deal would provide federal funding for gun violence research for the first time in more than two decades. The 2,313-page bill designates $25 million in funding for gun violence research at the CDC and the National Institutes of Health, according to The Washington Post.

2. The year-end spending bill would repeal the ACA's Cadillac tax, health insurer tax and medical device tax. Repealing the three taxes will come with a price tag of nearly $400 million, according to Axios, which cited a report from the Congressional Budget Office.

3. The spending deal would delay Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital payment cuts for about five months, but healthcare groups are urging Congress to implement a long-term solution.

"The uncertainty caused by these looming cuts does a disservice to patients, as it puts safety net hospitals that care for large numbers of Medicaid patients in limbo," Association of American Medical Colleges President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD, said in a Dec. 16 release. "We strongly encourage Congress to resolve these devastating cuts prior to May 22, 2020, when they are scheduled to go into effect."

4. The spending agreement does not include legislation to address surprise medical bills, according to Politico.

5. The spending deal includes a measure to raise the national age for tobacco sales to 21, according to NPR.

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