WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee and Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today said the Bipartisan Budget Act avoids a government shutdown, boosts funding for the military, contains disaster assistance for states hard hit by natural disasters, improves livestock disaster programs and contains several important healthcare provisions.
“I am pleased Senate leadership from both parties has negotiated this deal,” Roberts said. “Kansans are tired of the brinksmanship. They want certainty and security, and this bipartisan bill delivers both.
“I have long said the sequester was terrible policy, especially for our military. I am pleased we are funding our military at levels called for in the National Defense Authorization Act.
“In addition to disaster assistance for states crippled by hurricanes, we have also improved livestock disaster programs to help producers better recover from fires, like the historic Starbuck Fire in Kansas, and from other natural disasters.”
Livestock disaster program improvements include the following:
Increases funds available under the Emergency Assistance Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP). It provides more assistance to Kansas producers who made claims under the program who were impacted by 2017 wildfires.Increases assistance available to impacted producers eligible for the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP). Additionally, it revises LIP so that producers whose livestock suffered injury from a natural disaster and were later sold for a diminished value due to those injuries can qualify for a LIP payment.
It also contains numerous health care provisions Roberts has long championed:
Includes legislation, S. 1729, Roberts introduced with Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) that allows third-party accreditation of dialysis facilities to accelerate approval of new or expanded facilities that can serve patients. Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) introduced companion legislation in the House. Repeals Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). Roberts made this board and other rationing bodies a key part of his opposition to Obamacare due to its ability to ration care. IPAB is responsible for cost cutting decisions in Medicare should the rate of Medicare spending growth reach a certain target. Roberts says IPAB would have amounted to rationing of care for seniors by unelected bureaucrats. Provides flexibility in the meaningful use program for electronic health records by removing the mandate that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) make program standards more stringent over time and allows HHS to be more deliberative in such evaluations. Includes the CHRONIC Care Act, which improves Medicare for seniors with chronic conditions, including Roberts’ amendment to promote the appropriate use of medications and improve patient safety and to prevent avoidable health care costs.
In addition, it ensures that America’s armed forces have more of the resources they need by unwinding the sequestration cuts that have significantly hamstrung military readiness and jeopardized public safety since 2013. It also helps reduce the maintenance backlog at the Veterans Administration.
The bill funds the government at current levels through March 23, 2018, in order for the Appropriations Committees to negotiate detailed appropriations and deliver full funding for the remainder of FY 2018, and begin the process for FY 2019.