White House budget slashes HHS funding by 18%

Chris Nerney
Chris Nerney, Contributing Writer |
White House budget slashes HHS funding by 18%

Funding for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would be hacked by nearly 18 percent next year under a federal budget proposed Thursday by President Donald Trump.

The 2018 budget released by the White House cuts funding for HHS to $69 billion from $84.1 billion this year, a reduction of $15.1 billion, or 17.9 percent.

Hardest-hit within HHS under the Trump budget is the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the biomedical research arm of the federal health department, which would lose $5.8 billion of its current $31.7 billion in annual funding, a reduction of 18.3 percent. The budget also merges the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) into NIH. AHRQ's budget this year is $470 million.

"The Budget includes a major reorganization of NIH's Institutes and Centers to help focus resources on the highest priority research and training activities, including: eliminating the Fogarty International Center; consolidating the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality within NIH; and other consolidations and structural changes across NIH organizations and activities," the White House said in its budget proposal.

Under the Trump budget, community-benefit programs such as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) would be eliminated, a savings of $4.2 billion.

"Compared to other income support programs that serve similar populations, LIHEAP is a lower-impact program and is unable to demonstrate strong performance outcomes,” the White House said. “CSBG funds services that are duplicative of other Federal programs, such as emergency food assistance and employment services, and is also a limited-impact program."

The budget also cuts $403 million in health professions and nursing training programs, arguing there is a lack of evidence “that they significantly improve the Nation’s health workforce.”

While the Trump budget is the lowest amount proposed for HHS in two decades, it does include a handful of budget winners, as Healthcare IT News explains, including:

  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which would see a budget hike of $500 million to aid in substance abuse treatment activities, expand opioid misuse prevention efforts, and increase treatment and recovery service access.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), slated to get a new $500 million block grant to “increase state flexibility and focus on the leading public health challenges specific to each state.”

You can read the full White House 2018 budget proposal here.