Obama Releases FY 2017 Budget
Written by Editor   
Wednesday, February 17, 2016 12:00 AM

President Obama revealed his eighth and final White House budget sketching out plans for spending priorities in fiscal year 2017. In the healthcare realm, the president’s budget included few surprises, but a cut in funding for the CDC left some research and policy advocates dismayed.  The $6.98 billion request for the CDC represents a marked decrease from the nearly $7.2 billion the president proposed in FY 2016.

Almost exactly one-quarter of the president's $4.1-trillion proposal for the entire government is destined for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services -- up about $30 billion from FY 2016 -- most of it for the entitlement programs CMS oversees.

Approximately $82.8 billion is marked as discretionary funding for the Department of Health and Human Services, in addition to mandatory investments aimed at expanding mental health services, fighting the nation’s opioid and heroin epidemic, and accelerating research on cancer and other diseases.

The budget also includes $33.1 billion to support biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health, an increase of $825 million over FY 2016 and $5.1 billion for the FDA, $358.3 million more than FY 2016.

Here are a few of the budget's key health-focused elements:

  • $559 million to continue the initiative to fight the opioid epidemic by expanding the efforts of the Health and Human Services Department and the Department of Justice

  • $877 million to prevent, detect and reduce the number of deaths from antibiotic resistant bacteria

  • $755 million to continue the "cancer moonshot" through investments in the National Institutes of Health and the FDA

  • $500 million in new funding over 2 years to increase the capacity of the behavioral health workforce and improve access to care for those with serious mental illness

  • $380 million towards the National Health Service Corps to expand the primary care workforce

  • $300 million for the NIH to continue its Precision Medicine Initiative to hasten research on therapies tailored to individual patients

  • $195 million for the NIH to continue its BRAIN initiative on neurologic and psychiatric conditions

  • $20 million for a new pilot program to expand access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for individuals at high risk for HIV infection

The new budget continues the multi-year "cancer moonshot" program announced during Obama's State of the Union in January, which increases collaboration of scientists in public and private sectors and significantly expands research on cancer immunotherapies. The program earmarks $680 million for NIH and another $75 million for the FDA in 2017.

And the proposed budget addresses the high cost of prescription drugs. Notably, it gives HHS authority to require drug manufacturers to make public their research and development costs, and it reduces the length of exclusivity for brand-name biologic drugs, to 7 years from the current 12. Such strategies aim to increase patient access to generic drugs.

In other efforts to make drugs more affordable, the proposal increases discounts for brand-name drugs for seniors trapped in the Medicare coverage gap by raising manufacturer rebates from 50% to 75% in 2018, and aligns rebates for low-income Medicare Part D beneficiaries with those given to Medicaid beneficiaries.

It also provides Indian Health Services with $6.6 billion -- $402 million more than the FY 2016 budget -- to reduce health disparities, particularly in the realm of behavioral health.

The Association of American Medical Colleges was also disappointed with features of the FY 2017 budget, particularly the cuts to fund training at academic medical centers.

The new budget is not expected to be passed, though Congress may choose to endorse portions of the proposal without agreeing to the entire package.

Source:  www.medpagetoday.com/PublicHealthPolicy/HealthPolicy/56111