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May 10, 2019

The latest developments and trends in federal affairs impacting allied health education.

House Appropriations Committee passes FY 20 Labor-HHS funding bill – includes new potential opportunity for
ASAHP members

This week, the House Appropriations Committee “marked up” its FY 20 Labor-HHS Appropriations bill, passing it along party lines. We expect that the bill will be taken up on the House floor next month. Overall, it provides $11.8 billion (6.2%) increase for labor, health, and education programming above current funding levels and is in marked contrast to the Administration’s budget proposal that sought to cut domestic programming by 10%

Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), who chairs the Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee described the bill as a statement of the values and priorities of the new Democratic Majority in the House. A summary of the bill can be found here and links to a video of the proceeding, along with the legislative text and Committee Report can be found here. The Committee Report includes a funding table for all of the programs within the jurisdiction of the Subcommittee beginning on page 272.

Funding for National Institutes of Health received another $2 billion increase in the House bill, while programs within the Department of Education received a 6% overall boost, including an increase of $150 for the maximum Pell Grant to $6,345, as well as $492 million more for student financial aid, and a $431 million bump up for Higher Education programs.

The Administration’s funding for HRSA’s workforce programs were rejected. Instead, the House bill proposes a 12.5% increase, including a new $25 million initiative to provide loan repayment for graduates choosing to enter professions assisting people with substance use disorders.

Of direct importance to ASAHP members, we have been working on your behalf for the past several months with Chairwoman DeLauro to reestablish a successful program from the Recovery Act that assisted communities in providing more skilled professionals in high demand professions. This program was called the “TAACCCT grants”, which originally received four years of funding during the passage of the ACA in 2010. TAACCCT provided competitive grants to community colleges, many of which were in conjunction with four year universities – and a number of ASAHP members were awarded funding in partnerships with community colleges to offer education and training in allied health professions.

DeLauro’s new initiative in the Labor-HHS bill is called “Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants” and provides $150 million in competitive grants to community colleges, as well as four year universities, for high demand professions. While universities can apply on their own, a wiser approach will be to partner with community colleges and employers to create partnerships to educate students in allied health.

However, House passage of the Labor-HHS bill -- and inclusion of this new competitive grant program in particular -- is only the first step in the completion of the legislative process this year. Senate consideration of the Labor-HHS funding bill will begin next month, with House-Senate conference discussions likely in the fall. DeLauro has told us that she envisions this $150 million initiative as just a first step and something she would like to expand in the future.

We will be working throughout the year to press for the enactment of this new funding that offers the chance for a fresh source of funds for interested ASAHP members. We will keep you abreast of any developments related to this initiative as it progresses through the legislative process to ensure you have the best chance to secure funding in the future.