With HHS fac­ing huge cuts, Price set to tes­tify on bud­get

Modern Healthcare - - THE WEEK AHEAD - —Vir­gil Dick­son

HHS Sec­re­tary Tom Price will tes­tify Wed­nes­day to the pri­or­i­ties and ini­tia­tives of fed­eral health agen­cies as hear­ings for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s first pro­posed bud­get be­gin.

Health pro­grams took a huge fi­nan­cial hit un­der the pro­posal. HHS’ bud­get, which is the largest of any fed­eral agency, is cut by 16%, mak­ing it poised to lose $12.6 bil­lion if the bud­get were en­acted as writ­ten.

Price has praised the bud­get de­spite the losses.

“This bud­get sup­ports (the) mis­sion and will help en­sure we are de­liv­er­ing crit­i­cal ser­vices to our fel­low ci­ti­zens in the most ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive man­ner pos­si­ble,” Price said in a state­ment.

Over­all, Price ap­pears to be han­dling the loss of HHS fund­ing rather well. At a town hall this month, Price said mea­sures in the GOP’s Oba­macare re­place­ment bill that over­haul Med­i­caid and strip it of hun­dreds of bil­lions of dol­lars over a decade would not re­sult in lost ac­cess to care. He said the pro­gram should be mea­sured by how well it works, not its bud­get. In the GOP bill’s lat­est in­car­na­tion, $839 bil­lion would be cut from Med­i­caid.

Provider groups have slammed the bud­get pro­posal, ti­tled Amer­ica First: A Bud­get Blue­print to Make Amer­ica Great Again.

Dr. Nitin Damle, pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Physi­cians, said the bud­get would “make Amer­ica less great by un­der­min­ing our com­mit­ment to sci­ence, med­i­cal and health ser­vices re­search and med­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion.”

The bud­get pulls $5.8 bil­lion from the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health’s nearly $32 bil­lion bud­get. It’s not clear what re­search on dis­eases or dis­or­ders would lose the most money, al­though the bud­get plan specif­i­cally calls for elim­i­nat­ing a divi­sion that fo­cuses on global health.

HHS spend­ing on opi­oid-ad­dic­tion pre­ven­tion and treat­ment ef­forts would rise by $500 mil­lion. The U.S. Jus­tice De­part­ment would also re­ceive funds to com­bat the epi­demic.


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