Last week, President Biden released the administration’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Budget proposal. The Budget presents an ideological vision the administration would like to see Congress adopt. Along with a holistic document covering government funding, each agency releases a proposed budget that contains more granular details. This alert focuses on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) FY 2023 Budget request.
The FY 2023 HHS Budget proposes $127.3 billion in discretionary funding and $1.7 trillion in mandatory funding, including Medicare and Medicaid. The HHS budget focuses on several common themes: responding to emergent challenges, strengthening behavioral health, tackling health disparities, improving the well-being of children, families and seniors, and advancing research to improve health. It also proposes additional funding for pandemic preparedness, which is separate from the COVID-19 supplemental request Congress is considering currently.
Last year’s budget concentrated on the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan, which later became the American Rescue Plan Act, which was enacted in March 2021, and the Build Back Better Act. This year contains more details on priorities of the administration than last year’s budget. Notably, the budget contains numerous policy proposals within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) surrounding mental health and pandemic preparedness.
For mental health, the administration proposes to eliminate the 190-day lifetime limit on psychiatric hospital services and cover the cost of three behavioral health visits in Medicare, improve access to behavioral health care in the private insurance marketplace, and modernize Medicare’s mental health benefits. The administration believes that these changes will allow more Americans to receive the behavioral and mental health care that is lacking throughout the country.
The FY 2023 Budget also addresses lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to make significant proposed changes to Medicare and study the long-term effects of the virus. HHS proposes moving all vaccine coverage to Medicare Part B. It also proposes allowing the HHS secretary to have more power to waive or modify requirements in the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 Act during public health emergencies. These changes, the administration argues, would provide more ability for the executive branch to react to a future pandemic. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) would receive additional funding in order to understand quality health care approaches for people living with post-acute sequelae of COVID-19, or Long COVID.
The Biden administration also proposes to expand the Vaccines for Children (VAC) program, while creating a new Vaccines for Adults (VFA) program. The FY 2023 Budget proposes that the VAC expand services to include all children under the age of 19 enrolled in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). VFA would be the generation of a new mandatory federal program that would provide uninsured adults with access to recommended vaccines at no cost.
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra has already been up on the Hill defending his agency’s budget request, and these hearings will continue as the congressional appropriations process gets started.
For a detailed breakdown of the affects of this Budget proposal on HHS click here.
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