On September 26, 2018, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an $854 billion spending bill (H.R. 6157) to avert an October government shutdown, funding the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for fiscal year 2019 (FY19).

The bill includes $90.5 billion for HHS, a $2.3 billion increase from FY18. Key HHS agencies that support patients living with asthma and/or allergies include:

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

CMS funding is for mandatory programs, including $276 billion for Medicaid, the largest health insurance program in the U.S., covering more than 62 million Americans and a critical source of coverage for minority children. In some states, more than half of all children with asthma rely on Medicaid for their health coverage.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Most NIH programs would receive an increase in funding from fiscal 2018, including:

  • $5.52 billion for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a $263 million increase from FY18. NIAID conducts and supports research to increase understanding, improve techniques of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of allergic diseases such as asthma, environmental allergies, food allergies and eczema (atopic dermatitis).
  • $3.49 billion for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLB); a $105 million increase from FY18. NHLB supports research on the causes, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of lung diseases, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The measure would provide $209 million for Environmental Health Programs, which includes $29 million for the National Asthma Control Program, which works to integrate and coordinate the public health response to asthma control.

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)

Funding within HRSA includes:

  • $1.63 billion for community health centers, the same as FY18.
  • $1.1 billion for health workforce programs, a $36 million increase from FY18.
  • $926.8 million for maternal and child health programs, a $40 million increase from FY18.
  • The measure would set aside $25 million for grants to medical schools at public universities in states with the highest projected shortages of primary care providers.

Other Legislative Priorities

Airline Emergency Medical Kits

On October 5, President Trump signed the $96.7 billion Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018 into law (Public Law 115-254) reauthorizing programs under the FAA through 2023.

The bill contains provisions related to airport infrastructure and aviation safety and directs the FAA Administrator to evaluate and revise regulations regarding aircraft emergency medical kits to meet the emergency medical needs of children.

While specific language increasing the availability of epinephrine auto-injectors in emergency medical kits on airline carriers was not included in the final bill, the Network looks forward to engaging with the FAA on the specific needs of the flying public with severe allergies and/or asthma.

Pending Bills

Legislation in the 115th Congress that the Network continues to advocate for including:

  • H.R. 2077, the Restoring the Patient’s Voice Act of 2017, which provides a clear and transparent process to seek exceptions and approvals for medications subject to step therapy review by health insurance plans and establishes a reasonable and clear timeframe for override decisions.
  • H.R. 2285, the School-Based Respiratory Health Management Act, which gives grants preference to states that implement comprehensive school-based reversible lower airway disorders (e.g., asthma) and allergy management programs, including student action plans and education and training for school staff to administer asthma- and allergy-related medications in an emergency.
  • H.R. 5425, the Food Labeling Modernization Act, which updates the ingredient list on packaged foods adding “sesame” among other labeling requirements for consumers to evaluate products and make healthier and safer food choices.

Both the House and the Senate will return from recess on November 13, 2018, after the midterm elections.