President Trump’s 2018 budget request to Congress seeks massive cuts in spending on health programs, including medical research, disease prevention programs and health insurance for children living in poverty. The full budget document is scheduled to be released Tuesday morning, but either by mistake or design, the administration posted the section dealing with the Department of Health and Human Services late Monday afternoon. The document was soon taken offline.
The dramatic cuts in spending on programs that normally have enjoyed bipartisan support is part of the Trump administration’s effort to cut trillions of dollars in spending over the next decade while at the same time paying for tax cuts and increases in military spending.
Trump’s Office of Management and Budget produced a “skinny budget” in March, in effect an outline with few details, and that document delivered a number of surprises, including a call to cut nearly one-fifth of National Institutes of Health budget and nearly one-third of the Environmental Protection Agency funding.
Lawmakers appeared to ignore that budget request entirely when putting together a spending plan for the rest of fiscal 2017, which runs through September. Much of that spending plan had been in the works even before the November election. It is unclear how Congress, which has the power of the purse, will treat this new and more detailed budget request.
But the document posted late Monday shows that blowback from that earlier budget request did not dissuade the administration from sticking to its strategy of cutting nonmilitary discretionary spending to pay for tax cuts and a boost in the Pentagon budget.
Among the highlights:
The administration sticks with its call to cut NIH from $31.8 billion in budget authority to $26 billion.
Trump wants to cut $1 billion from the budget of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. This would include, among other cuts, a decrease of $222 million (compared with the 2017 budget passed by Congress recently) for “chronic disease prevention and health promotion activities.”
The CDC’s global health program, which fights epidemics abroad, would be reduced from $426 million to $350 million, according to the document. Spending on HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, sexually transmitted infections and tuberculosis prevention would drop from $1.12 billion to $934 million.
The budget document highlights $35 million that the CDC spends on childhood lead poisoning prevention. But the overall spending on “environmental health” would under Trump’s plan be cut by $60 million, down to $157 million, according the document.
The administration wants to shift funding from the federal government to state, local and tribal governments, according to one highlighted passage in the budget request. It announces a “reform” of the CDC that would create a new, $500 million “America’s Health Block Grant” that would “increase State, tribal and territorial flexibility and focus on the leading chronic disease challenges specific to each State.”
The Food and Drug Administration would see a cut from $2.74 billion to $1.89 billion. User fees paid by manufacturers of drugs, devices and other products would be increased by more than $1 billion to pay for pre-market product reviews.
Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the chairman of the health committee, has said he doesn’t want to reopen negotiations with the industry over fees that it pays to support FDA activities. His committee recently approved legislation that ignores the administration request.
This is a developing story.
Laurie McGinley contributed to this story.
The Post’s coverage of the March for Science