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Trump budget would cut health care funds

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WASHINGTON — The fiscal 2018 U.S. budget issued by the Trump administration calls for steep cuts in health care and scientific research while heavily boosting defense spending and offering substantial tax cuts.

Dubbed “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” the spending plan was touted as a “taxpayer first” budget by Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, but it drew immediate criticism from an array of associations and institutions involved with scientific and medical research as well as some Republican lawmakers.

President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump

For starters, the Food and Drug Administration will see its 2018 funding slashed by $855 million, or a whopping 31%, to $1.89 billion from $2.74 billion. To offset the reduction, the plan calls for user fees paid by pharmaceutical manufacturers and makers of medical products and devices to be increased by more than $1.1 billion. Such fees currently total $1.2 billion and cover almost half the cost of all medical product activities.

According to The Washington Post, the idea of boosting user fees is unlikely to win much support in Congress. The chairman of the Senate health committee, Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.), has publicly stated that he does not wish to reopen negotiations with the industry over the fees it pays to support the FDA, and the committee recently approved a bill that ignores an administration request to increase user fees.

A spokesman for the group Friends of Cancer Research told NPR that the budget shows a basic failure to understand how these agencies operate. “To further suggest that private sector industry make up for such a significant cut to the FDA as proposed by the president shows a lack of knowledge for how user fees can be used and the scope of the FDA’s pivotal role in assuring the safety of Americans,” he said.

The White House inadvertently posted the portion of the budget relating to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) a day before the full budget plan was released. Titled — perhaps with unintentional irony — “Putting America’s Health First: FY 2018 President’s Budget for HHS,” the document details staggering funding cuts to programs that have received bipartisan support in Congress.

Funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) would be cut about 18% to $26 billion in 2018 from $31.8 billion in 2016. The $5.8 billion reduction includes $1 billion trimmed from the National Cancer Institute, $838 million from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease and $575 million from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stands to lose $1.2 billion. Among the largest cuts would be a $222 million reduction in funding for chronic disease prevention programs that are designed to help prevent diabetes, heart disease and stroke, and obesity. Additionally, CDC’s center for prevention of HIV/Aids, viral hepatitis, sexually transmitted infections and tuberculosis would take a $186 million hit.


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