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Congress Passes Short-Term Spending Bill that Temporarily Funds the Government and CHIP; Plans to Include Long-Term Funding for Healthcare Extenders in Omnibus Bill Next Month

Congress voted yesterday to pass a temporary spending bill that will keep the government open until January 19, as well as provide funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and other healthcare programs through the first quarter of 2018. The continuing resolution (CR) also includes a PAYGO waiver to delay through 2018 the mandatory Medicare cuts triggered by passage of the Republican tax bill on Wednesday. The House voted 231–188 and the Senate voted 66–32 in favor of the measure. President Trump signed the CR earlier today.

Long-term funding for CHIP, Community Health Centers, and other healthcare extenders not included in the stopgap bill will likely be included in the omnibus spending bill that Congress must pass by January 19, when the current short-term CR expires. As we have reported, Congress is still considering the annual package of Medicare payment extensions, known as extenders, and policy fixes to “improve efficiencies” in the Medicare program. The cost of the extender package could be offset by continuing the ASCRS-opposed misvalued codes provision. If annual misvalued code targets are not met through revaluation of specific services, Medicare physician reimbursements are subject to across-the-board cuts. ASCRS, in conjunction with both the Alliance of Specialty Medicine and the surgical community, has sent letters to Congressional leaders in opposition to these possible cuts, and we will continue to our advocacy efforts to prevent them.

We will keep you updated.