Congress Passes Short-Term Extender as Negotiations Continue Over Long Term Budget, COVID Relief

Situation Report | December 14, 2020

Congress is currently working to finalize the fiscal year 2021 federal budget and a COVID-19 relief package before the end of the 116th Congress.

Over the weekend, the two houses passed a one-week continuing resolution (CR) that runs until Friday, December 18 to keep the federal government running while negotiations are ongoing.

This week — in anticipation of the December 18 deadline — lawmakers hope to finalize an omnibus appropriations bill that would fund the federal government through September 2021, covering the remaining agencies, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), Housing and Urban Development, and others.

While an omnibus appropriations bill appears likely to pass, the same cannot be said so confidently for a COVID-19 relief package.

Negotiations were stalled for months until a bipartisan group of Senate and House Members released a compromise package last week. The compromise package would provide about $900 billion in funding for health care services, increased funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, and COVID-19 vaccine distribution funds, among many other programs.

Two main areas are fiercely contested: 1) stimulus funding for state and local governments; and 2) COVID-19 liability protections for companies and non-profits.

Without state and local stimulus dollars, many states, like New York, will see a serious shortfall in revenue that could lead to program cuts, including Medicaid. New York State officials project a deficit next year, amounting to $14 billion, rising as high as $59 billion through 2022.

If a COVID-19 relief package is negotiated, Congress could produce one large bill covering the appropriations and COVID-19 relief measures, or these parts could be split into two votes. The ultimate configuration will largely depend on the timing of when and if a COVID-19 package is finalized.

HCA will continue to provide the membership with further developments in this evolving process as we learn of further updates this week.