Congress passes short-term funding bill extending DSH payments to March 8

Both chambers of Congress voted Thursday to pass a bill Thursday that punts a partial government shutdown, set to go into effect this weekend, back to early March.

The Senate voted 77-18 in favor of the stopgap Thursday afternoon, and was shortly followed by 314-108 vote in the House. 

President Joe Biden had previously signaled that he would quickly sign an extension hashed out by Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) last weekend before the 12:00 a.m., Saturday morning deadline.

The legislation is intended to give lawmakers more time to consider a collection of separate spending bills that would fund the government through the remainder of its fiscal year (Oct. 1). Disagreements between the major parties on key issues like the Ukraine war and border control, as well as inter-party fighting among Republicans, make this the third such spending extension of the current fiscal year.

From a healthcare perspective, the bill again pushes back a scheduled $8 billion-per-year cut to Medicaid disproportionate share hospital program payments. It also temporarily renews funding for community health centers, the National Health Service Corps and teaching health centers operating Graduate Medical Education programs. Each of the above will now be funded up to March 8.

More controversial healthcare items in lobbyists’ crosshairs, such as implementation site-neutral Medicare payments or a physician Medicare payment rate cut that went into effect Jan. 1, are not addressed in the stopgap.