Congress passes bipartisan funding stopgap that punts DSH cuts, extends other healthcare programs

Editor's note: This story was updated to reflect H.R. 6363's passage in the Senate on Wednesday.

The House of Representatives passed a “two-step” spending bill Tuesday that, along with delaying a government shutdown, bumps back pay cuts for hospitals and extends community health center and training programs.

The continuing resolution (H.R. 6363) passed in a 336-95 vote, with 209 Democrats and 127 Republicans voting in favor.

The Republican-controlled chamber has been the site of inter-party leadership disputes that, until Tuesday, had put any funding compromises in question. The resolution found swift support in Senate, where it was passed just a day later.

Dissenting Republican representatives had sought deeper spending cuts, whereas the stopgap broadly sustains 2023 levels of funding for several government programs through two new deadlines, Jan. 19, 2024, and Feb. 3, 2024.

Program extensions relevant to the healthcare industry largely fall under the former cutoff date. These include scheduled $8 billion-per-year cuts to Medicaid disproportionate share hospital program payments as well as funding for community health centers, the National Health Service Corps and teaching health centers operating Graduate Medical Education programs.

Additionally, scheduled multiyear pay cuts to the Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule set to take effect Jan. 1, 2024, have been pushed back a full year.

The bipartisan stopgap quickly picked up the support of Senate leaders Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, each of whom promised to pass the compromise as quickly as possible. It has also reportedly gained approval from the White House, which needs to sign the continuing resolution into law before the end of Friday to prevent a government shutdown.