Yesterday, Senate Republican and Democratic leaders announced a deal on a bipartisan budget agreement that includes a number of Senator Portman’s key priorities such as addressing the opioid crisis, providing new resources for our military and veterans, reauthorizing Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and community health center funding, establishing a new committee to help solve the multiemployer pension crisis, and other key Portman health care priorities. Following yesterday’s announcement, here’s what Portman said:

I’m pleased to see both parties come together and reach an agreement to increase funding for our military and our veterans and make key investments to address this opioid crisis while keeping our government running.”

Here are the highlights of key Portman priorities in the bipartisan budget agreement announced yesterday:

  • Provides an additional $6 billion for opioid funding over two years. The bipartisan agreement includes $6 billion over two years to bolster the ongoing fight against opioid addiction and substance abuse by funding prevention, treatment and recovery programs, and law enforcement efforts in vulnerable communities across the country.  Portman has been a leader in the Senate advocating for additional funding and more tools to combat this epidemic.
  • Increases funding for our troops and veterans. This agreement increases defense discretionary funding by $80 billion in FY 2018 and $85 billion in FY 2019 to provide America’s armed forces with the resources they need, consistent with the funding authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act. The agreement also includes dedicated funding increases for veterans as well.
  • Forms bipartisan committee on pensions. The bipartisan agreement establishes a bipartisan committee to address the looming multiemployer pension crisis in America to help pave the way for responsible reforms to protect retiree benefits, ensure the solvency of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, and allow participating employers to remain competitive.  Portman has continued to engage in discussions with all stakeholders regarding solutions on this issue.
  • Extends CHIP for an additional four years. This agreement extends Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding for an additional four years beyond the six-year reauthorization Congress just enacted, providing long-term assurances to the families of 219,000 children in Ohio and nine million children nationwide who receive health care through this program. Portman has long advocated for a long-term funding solution.
  • Reauthorizes community health centers for two additional years. The agreement renews funding for community health centers, which provide affordable health care to our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. Portman recently has expressed his strong support for community health centers, which provide access to cost-effective primary and preventive care, and urged Senate leadership to reauthorize their funding. 
  • Reauthorizes the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Visiting Program for five years. The agreement renews this program, which has proven effective in helping families with newborns through evidenced-based home visitation programs – particularly new families coping with the opioid epidemic.   
  • Improves health outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries living with chronic conditions. The bipartisan agreement ensures that Medicare beneficiaries can receive high-quality, personalized care at home, incentivizes beneficiaries to receive preventive services and better manage their health care, and ensures the Medicare Advantage program includes accurate quality measures to incentivize plans to continue to care for low-income seniors.
  • Extends the Independence at Home Act (IAH). The agreement extends the IAH demonstration’s expiration date by two years (until September 30, 2019), increases the cap on the total number of participating beneficiaries from 10,000 to 15,000, and gives practices three years to receive a shared savings payment. This program has benefited seniors in Ohio by reducing hospital readmissions, preventing costly hospital and nursing home admissions, and, most importantly, keeping patients healthy and in their preferred care setting.
  • Creates a better health rewards program in the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) setting.  The agreement includes a new program called the ACO Beneficiary Incentive Program, which would allow ACOs to make incentive payments to their members who seek out preventive care or chronic disease management services.  This program will allow Medicare to engage seniors in their health care – incentivizing seniors to set goals and meet health targets – enabling them to live better, healthier lives while also saving the Medicare system money without making cuts to benefits.
  • Ensures Medicare Advantage quality measures account for the most vulnerable population.  The agreement includes a provision that builds on Portman’s work with Senator Casey to ensure the most vulnerable Medicare beneficiaries—including low-income, disabled, and dually-eligible seniors—are able to maintain access to high-quality Medicare Advantage plans.

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