The Department of Health and Human Services would see its funding cut by $15.1 billion, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development would see its funding decreased by $6.2 billion under a fiscal year 2018 budget proposal released Thursday by the White House Office of Management and Budget.
HHS would receive $69 billion, 17.9% decrease from the 2017 annualized continuing resolution level, according to the overview document, titled “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again.”
Under President Trump’s plan, HHS’ Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control program would receive discretionary funding of $751 million, a $70 million increase from 2017. The program aims to identify and prevent fraudulent or improper payments from being made rather than trying to recoup funds after they have been disbursed. “The return on investment for the HCFAC account was $5 returned for every $1 expended from 2014-2016,” according to the blueprint.
Within the HHS budget, the National Institutes of Health would receive $25.9 billion, which is $5.8 billion less than in 2017. “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 document states.
The budget also would eliminate from HHS $403 million in health professions and nursing training programs because, according to the document, they “lack evidence that they significantly improve the nation’s health workforce.” Health workforce activities would continue to be funded via scholarships and loan repayments in exchange for service in areas of the United States where there is a shortage of health professionals.
The American Geriatrics Society expressed “deep disappointment” in the proposed cuts to geriatrics training, NIH research and home- and community-based services for older adults and said that assumptions that training programs weren’t effective were “flawed.”
The Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program, according to Nancy E. Lundebjerg, MPA, the CEO of AGS, “is the only federal program aimed at improving the quality, safety and affordability of our care by increasing the number of professionals with the skills needed to care for us as we age.”
The organization, however, said it was pleased that the budget would increase discretionary funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs by $4.4 billion, or 5.9% from 2017, to a total of $78.9 billion. The funds, the group said, “would sustain the Veterans Choice Program and provide discretionary funding to improve care access and efficiency for more than 9 million American veterans.”
HUD would receive $40.7 billion in gross discretionary funding under the proposed budget, a 13.2% decrease from 2017. In an email, the HUD Office of Public Affairs said that the proposal for the department “recognizes a greater role for state and local governments and the private sector to address community and economic development needs.”
Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said that the proposed reduction was “unconscionable and unacceptable.”
“More than 200,000 seniors, families and people with disabilities will be at immediate risk of evictions and homelessness, and local communities will be starved of the funding they need to build and repair affordable homes and revitalize distressed communities,” she said.
NLIHC, Yentel said, “will work with allies in Congress and with residents, partners, stakeholders and advocates across the country to ensure that this budget proposal is dead on arrival.”
The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living on Thursday said it was continuing to review the budget. “We look forward to receiving more details and having a better understanding of specific policy proposals that will impact the care we provide to millions of patients and residents,” said Mike Cheek, senior vice president of finance policy and legal affairs.
LeadingAge also said it was continuing to review the budget.
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