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Trump's budget cuts HHS spending by $15 billion, rolls AHRQ into the NIH

The budget also cuts more than $400 million earmarked for physician and nurse training programs, claiming that they don't work.

Henry Powderly, Editor-in-Chief

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would see its funding cut by 18 percent if Congress decides to enact a new federal budget proposed Thursday morning by the White House.

Under President Donald Trump's budget, the HHS budget would be reduced by $15 billion, a move intended to rein in federal spending while also offsetting a proposed $54 billion increase in defense spending.

The budget slashes $6 billion from the National Institutes of Health while merging the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality into that agency. AHRQ's research has become more important in recent years as value-based reimbursement arrangements tie payment to clinical quality.

"The Budget includes a major reorganization of NIH's Institutes and Centers to help focus resources on the highest priority research and training activities, including: eliminating the Fogarty International Center; consolidating the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality within NIH; and other consolidations and structural changes across NIH organizations and activities," the White House said in its proposal.

[Also: CBO report predicts 24 million would lose coverage by 2026 under American Health Care Act]

The budget also cuts more than $400 million earmarked for physician and nurse training programs, claiming they lack evidence those programs improve the workforce.

The administration also plans to save $4.2 billion by cutting the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and the Community Services Block Grant, among other community-benefit programs.

"Compared to other income support programs that serve similar populations, LIHEAP is a lower-impact program and is unable to demonstrate strong performance outcomes. CSBG funds services that are duplicative of other Federal programs, such as emergency food assistance and employment services, and is also a limited-impact program," the White House said.

While the president's budget makes steep cuts, it also earmarks some increases for HHS programs.

For example, the budget adds an additional $500 million to support substance abuse programs to combat the nation's opioid epidemic. It also adds $70 million to support the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control task force, which the administration says recovers $5 for every $1 spent on the program.

The budget also says it will invest in community health centers, which new HHS Secretary Tom Price has put a lot of emphasis on as an alternative to Planned Parenthood when it comes to providing women's health services. Republicans are currently trying to find support for its latest bill to replace the Affordable Care Act. That bill, the American Health Care Act, strips federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

Here is the administration's breakdown:

Twitter: @HenryPowderly
Contact the author: henry.powderly@himssmedia.com

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