Trump’s Budget Would Cut HHS Funding 21%; Azar Approves

Jack O'Brien, February 12, 2018

The White House calls for an increase in funding for veterans healthcare services, while proposing cuts to HHS and a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. 

President Donald Trump released his budget proposal Monday for fiscal year 2019. It includes overall reductions in nondefense spending while also increasing funding for veterans healthcare services.

The White House’s $4.4 trillion budget request to Congress comes days after a two-year, $300 billion bipartisan budget deal was signed into law following the second government shutdown in as many months.

Related: What's In, What's Out: Healthcare Provisions from the Bipartisan Budget Deal

Though Congress is unlikely to vote on a singular budget, the various provisions listed in the executive proposal outline the legislative agenda the Trump administration would like to pursue in 2018.

“I applaud President Trump for laying out his vision for the country in today’s budget request and welcome his partnership as the Energy and Commerce Committee works to tackle several shared priorities," said Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce in a statement. "Many of the administration’s other proposals to lower health care costs complement our continued commitment to addressing the cost drivers across every facet of our nation’s health care system."

Below is a breakdown of the proposals affecting the healthcare world, including cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Medicare, a repeal-and-replace plan for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and more money for veterans healthcare.

Major cuts to HHS

The proposal features a $68.4 billion budgetary line for HHS, a 21% reduction in funding compared to FY 2017. The budget also proposes a $451 million cut to training programs for health professionals, arguing the initiatives “lack evidence that they significantly improve the nation’s health workforce.”

If adopted, the policies would extend Medicare’s solvency by eight years, according to the budget proposal. Current projections estimate Medicare will become insolvent by 2029. The Trump administration also proposed a limit on Medicaid reimbursements to federal providers at no more than the cost of providing services to beneficiaries.

“The President’s budget makes investments and reforms that are vital to making our health and human services programs work for Americans and to sustaining them for future generations," said HHS Secretary Alex Azar in a statement. "In particular, it supports our four priorities here at HHS: addressing the opioid crisis, bringing down the high price of prescription drugs, increasing the affordability and accessibility of health insurance, and improving Medicare in ways that push our health system toward paying for value rather than volume."

Jack O'Brien

Jack O'Brien is an associate editor at HealthLeaders Media. 

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