House GOP unveils health spending bill

House GOP unveils health spending bill
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House Republicans on Wednesday released their healthcare spending bill for fiscal 2017, boosting funding to fight opioid abuse and the Zika virus while taking aim at ObamaCare and abortion. 

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The measure from the House Appropriations Committee includes extra funding in hot-button areas where Democrats have demanded immediate funding outside of the regular appropriations process. 

The bill includes a $525 million increase over this year’s funding level for opioid abuse programs. Democrats are currently threatening to block an opioid policy bill unless $920 million in extra funding is added. 

The spending measure also includes $390 million to fight the Zika virus. Democrats have said that the regular appropriations process is not enough and are pushing for up to $1.9 billion in emergency funds. 

The path forward for appropriations bills is in doubt, however, and talk of a continuing resolution to keep this year’s spending levels going for several months past the Sept. 30 deadline has already begun. 

The Senate Appropriations Committee last month advanced a health spending bill that was bipartisan, a rare occurrence. 

A spokesman for House Appropriations Committee Democrats said they were still reviewing the House bill on Wednesday. 

However, the House bill has several provisions that are sure to draw Democratic objections. 

The bill aims to stop ObamaCare by rescinding money going to its implementation. 

The Senate, by contrast, steered clear of ObamaCare fights in an attempt to keep its bill bipartisan. 

The House measure also includes language to strengthen protections for employers with moral objections to covering abortions in their health insurance plans, a provision opposed by Democrats. 

In a more bipartisan area, the bill has a $1.25 billion boost for medical research at the National Institutes of Health. The Senate bill went even further, proposing a $2 billion increase.