The Senate last night voted 85-7 to pass an $857 billion spending package, which includes bills that would fund the departments of Health and Human Services, Defense and Labor for fiscal year 2019. The bill would provide a $2.3 billion increase for HHS from 2018. Among other provisions, the bill would provide $3.7 billion, an increase of $147 million, to continue combatting the opioid epidemic; $325 million, an increase of $10 million, for the Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education program; $319 million, an increase of $28 million, for rural health care programs; and $3.5 billion, an increase of $113 million, to help communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from public health and medical disasters such as influenza, Ebola, Zika and natural disasters. It also would increase funding for the National Institutes of Health by $2 billion. In addition the bill includes a provision, as urged by the AHA, to address the out-of-control cost of prescription drugs by providing funding to enable HHS to require disclosure of drug pricing information in direct-to-consumer advertising. The Senate and House are expected to enter into conference negotiations to reconcile their bills. Current funding runs out Sept. 30.

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