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CCTS Newsletter | March 3, 2018

Saturday, March 3, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Andres Bachelet
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Dale Dirks and Dane Christiansen

March 3, 2018


As Congress was completing a two-year budget deal to add significant additional spending to both defense and non-defense discretionary programs for FY 2018 and FY 2019, the White House was preparing to release the administration’s FY 2019 budget request to Congress. While FY 2018 appropriations remain unfinished (and are expected to be completed later in March), the release of the non-binding budget request traditionally marks the beginning of the next appropriations cycle on Capitol Hill.


The FY 2018 budget request was strongly rebuked by lawmakers from both parties last year as Congress outright rejected the recommendations of deep funding cuts for medical research, restrictions on researchers, and the erosion of public health programs. For FY 2019, the administration’s request is less hostile to research and public health programs, but still contains a number of problematic proposals.


The centerpiece of the FY 2019 budget request is a transportation infrastructure package that requests $200 billion in federal funding over the next 10 years while seeking to stimulate investments from states and private entities to generate $1.5 billion in infrastructure spending overall. The other notable new proposal is a request for $10 billion in opioid funding across the agencies of the Department of Health and Human Services to expand access to prevention, treatment, and recovery support services, as well as support mental health.


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) takes a modest cut under the FY 2019 request and then sees a modest increase once new opioid resources are added in. The request once again calls for eliminating the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and consolidating activities within NIH, which would now have three new Institutes. Deep cuts are once again proposed to undermine patient access though Medicare and Medicaid, an alternative proposal is made to reduce pay for researchers, and the same proposal is advance to consolidate public health programs into a state block grant.


Both FY 2018 and the recent budget deal are good indications that Congress will once again disregard the administration’s budget request. However, it is likely that new programs and initiatives will be launched later this year to better address the opioid epidemic. These new activities may contain meaningful resources for research and public health beyond what will be provided through the annual appropriations bills.