FY 2018 Budget
The Trump administration plans to release its FY 2018 Budget next Tuesday, May 23. The budget is expected to show balance within 10 years, in part through sweeping cuts to mandatory spending, including to Medicaid and other public health programs. Public health agencies are bracing for the largest cuts to federal funding in more than a decade and fear that many programs aimed at curbing disease outbreaks and reducing health costs will be completely zeroed out. The cuts expected in Trump’s budget, when combined with the spending reductions in the House Republicans’ healthcare bill, would likely mean a loss of $1-2 billion per year for state programs that ensure access to vaccines for poor children and flag disease outbreaks. This funding loss could potentially force states to trim programs or divert local funds. We will keep you updated on the FY 2018 Budget and Appropriations process in the coming weeks.
Affordable Care Act Replacement
The Senate’s 13-member healthcare working group continues to work this week to craft their version of the legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It is predicted that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) will release its score of the House legislation (the American Healthcare Act, or AHCA) next week.
New FDA Commissioner
Last Tuesday, the Senate voted 57 to 42 to confirm Dr. Scott Gottlieb as the new commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Dr. Gottlieb’s background includes many years of consulting to large drug companies, in addition to writing for the conservative American Enterprise Institute and serving as deputy commissioner at FDA under President George W. Bush. Many Democrats are concerned about Dr. Gottlieb’s ability to regulate drug companies when he has close ties with several of the largest ones. Gottlieb has promised to divest himself from several large health care companies and recuse himself for one year from decisions involving those companies, but that was not enough for many Democratic senators.
Recent Attacks on Environmental Protection
Another important FY 2018 funding consideration are the deep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the Trump administration is expected to call for. In the President's skinny budget released in March, the administration called for 31% of EPA's budget to be cut. In addition to expected budget cuts, the EPA is facing attacks from its own secretary. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt recently dismissed half of the members of an important science advisory board concerned with air and water quality. These attacks on the EPA have implications for water safety, clean air, and other environmental targets that impact human health.