Trump’s budget proposal would cut HHS funding by $15B; VA gets $4.4B boost for care access

The Department of Health and Human Services will see its budget slashed by more than $15 billion in 2018 under President Donald Trump’s proposed budget. Meanwhile, the Department of Veterans Affairs would see a $4.4 billion increase to improve access to care and expand the VA’s Choice Program.

The 17.9% HHS budget cut includes increased funding for fraud, waste and abuse detection and substance abuse treatment, but slashes funding for the nation’s foremost medical research agency and support programs for low-income individuals.

The largest reduction is aimed at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which would see a $5.8 billion cut in funding, bringing the agency’s annual budget to $25.9 billion. The proposal includes a “major reorganization” of NIH’s institutes and centers that would eliminate the Fogarty International Center, which focuses on global health research, consolidate the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research and reduce federal research funding.

The budget (PDF) also looks to trim $4.2 billion by eliminating two programs under the Office of Community Services that help low-income families heat their homes in the winter. The budget indicated that the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is “unable to demonstrate strong performance outcomes” and the Community Services Block Grant “funds services that are duplicative of other Federal programs.”

Trump’s plan would also double medical product user fees for companies applying for FDA approval, restructure HHS preparedness grants and eliminate more than $400 million in funding for dedicated professional training programs for healthcare workers.

Two programs that could see their budgets increase include the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Program, which would see an additional $70 million in funding, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which would get $500 million to expand opioid addiction treatment efforts.

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