On December 18, 2015, Congress overwhelmingly passed a combined budget and tax package, which President Obama signed into law the same day. Among other things, this $1.8 trillion agreement prevents a government shutdown and funds the government through September 2016. While Medicare beneficiary advocates had feared the Bill would include a number of provisions that would negatively affect Medicare beneficiaries, such provisions were not included. Some health-related provisions that are in the final package include:
- State Health Insurance Programs (SHIPs) are funded at $52 million for fiscal year 2016—this is the same level of funding as the previous fiscal year, not the drastic cut that was proposed earlier in 2015.
- The Administration for Community Living, an agency within HHS that helps older persons and people with disabilities live independently, is funded at $1.95 billion for fiscal year 2016—$36 million more than in fiscal year 2015. This amount includes $158 million for a program ($6.5 million more than the previous year) that provides support services to family caregivers.
- Important Affordable Care Act (ACA) funding mechanisms, the “Cadillac Tax” and the Medical Device Tax, have been delayed for two years. The budget law reduces revenue for the ACA by $35 billion. The delay of the Cadillac Tax on insurance plans with high-end benefits will cost the government at least $18 billion over the next two years.
- The law limits Medicaid payments of Durable Medical Equipment (DME) to Medicare rates and instructs CMS to evaluate the efficacy of this change in payment amounts. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates in the budget it submitted to Congress that this effort will save it $4.3 billion over 10 years.
- The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund is funded through 2021 at $4.6 billion. The health care portion of the Zagroda Act (of which the compensation fund is one part) was extended until 2090.
- The law raises National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding by $2 billion in 2016 to a total of $32.1 billion—the 6.6 percent increase in funding is the largest the agency has seen in 12 years.
- The legislation includes $350 million more in spending for Alzheimer’s research—a 60% increase over the 2015 amount. By the end of 2015, an estimated 20 percent of Medicare costs will have gone towards caring for patients with Alzheimer’s.
 “Summary of $1.15 Trillion Bipartisan Omnibus Spending Bill.” North Iowa Today. 21 December 2015. http://northiowatoday.com/2015/12/21/summary-of-1-15-trillion-bipartisan-omnibus-spending-bill/ (site visited December 22, 2015).
 Alexander Bolton. “Senate Sends $1.8 Trillion Deal to Obama.” The Hill. 18 December 2015. http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/263709-senate-sends-18-trillion-deal-to-obama (site visited December 21, 2015).
 Robert Pear. “In Likely Spending Plan, Congress Readies Blows to Obama’s Health Care Law.” The New York Times. 16 December 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/17/us/politics/in-likely-spending-plan-congress-readies-blows-to-obamas-health-care-law.html?ref=topics&_r=0 (site visited December 21, 2015).
 Division O Title V, Section 503.
 Department of Health and Human Services. “HHS FY2016 Budget in Brief.” 02 February 2015. http://www.hhs.gov/about/budget/budget-in-brief/cms/medicaid/index.html (site visited December 22, 2015).
 Luke Russert, Alex Moe, and Frank Thorp. “Congress Set to Extend Lifetime Health Care Benefits for 9/11 First Responders.” NBC News. 15 December 2015. http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/congress-set-extend-lifetime-healthcare-benefits-9-11-first-responders-n480706 (site visited December 16, 2015).
 Jocelyn Kaiser. “2016 Spending Bill Gives NIH $2 Billion Raise, Largest in 12 Years.” ScienceInsider. http://news.sciencemag.org/funding/2015/12/budget-agreement-boosts-u-s-science#nih (site visited December 22, 2015).
 Alzheimer’s Association. Fact Sheet. February 2015. http://act.alz.org/site/DocServer/2012_Costs_Fact_Sheet_version_2.pdf?docID=7161 (site visited December 22, 2015).