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Healthcare advocates say they fear the drastic funding cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as well as other federal health programs in President Trump’s proposed 2019 budget will harm patient care and medical research.
The $4.4 trillion fiscal 2019 budget proposal for the federal government includes $68.4 billion for HHS, a nearly $18 billion, or 21 percent, decrease in discretionary funding.
Medicare and Medicaid funding, workforce training, and anti-poverty initiatives are among the biggest losers in the budget proposal, which would increase funding for the 21st Century Cures Act, the National Institutes of Health, and efforts to combat opioid abuse nationwide.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) faces an even larger budget cut than HHS under the White House spending plan to $38 million, a 36 percent reduction from the current $60 million ONC budget.
HIMSS, a non-profit organization that promotes better health through information technology, said in a statement that it “is concerned that the significant cuts proposed for HHS in the President’s FY19 Budget Request run contrary to Congress’ intent to promote policy that advances patient safety, quality outcomes, and innovation in healthcare.”
“The proposed cuts to various agencies within HHS … sends the message that the U.S. is not committed to maintaining our role as the leading voice on medical innovation,” HIMSS said. “We encourage Congress to reject the proposed cuts and confirm its investment in medical and health services research, innovation and health information and technology to support healthcare transformation for patients.”
LeadingAge, a nationwide non-profit devoted to providing services to and advocacy for aging Americans, criticized the budget’s proposed Medicaid per capita caps and block grants.
“It also proposes cuts to Medicare, which can have negative consequences for beneficiaries and providers and threaten important community supports funded under the Older Americans Act,” LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan said in a statement.
While presidential budget proposals draw a lot of attention, Congress is not obligated to act upon them. Nonetheless, they are indicators of White House priorities and thus can influence public debate and federal legislators as they craft budget proposals that eventually end up on the president’s desk.
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