Federal Update: Cancer News in the Federal Budget

Bipartisan Budget Act

Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 in early February, ending a brief government shutdown by extending funding for the federal government through March and lifting spending caps for the next two years.

Within this deal were several significant health measures that bolster cancer research and access to care for low-income Americans: Namely, an additional $2 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health; an additional 4-year extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program (bringing the total to 10 years after a previous budget deal); and funding for community health centers.

Unfortunately, the bill also cut $1.35 billion from the Affordable Care Act's Prevention and Public Health Fund. This fund, which is perennially in jeopardy, provides funding to the CDC and other public health agencies to support key cancer prevention and control priorities such as immunization and tobacco use prevention.      

Trump's Budget Proposal

President Trump's Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposal, " An American Budget," was released in February and would dramatically affect cancer-related programs and funding. Though Presidential budget proposals historically gain little traction in Congress, they offer insight into an Administration's priorities. 

The President proposed significant cuts to federal health programs - including restructuring some funding at the NIH, eliminating the CDC's Prevention and Public Health Fund, significantly reducing funding for Medicaid, and assuming passage of a bill similar to Graham-Cassidy to revive the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

The budget also contained support for several of the Administration's earlier-released proposals to reduce prescription drug costs, primarily through public programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

Proposals to lower prescription drug costs are something the Policy Committee is monitoring very closely. Given the lack of progress on this issue at the federal level, individual health systems and states are beginning to pursue options to address drug prices on their own. Prescription drug prices are a significant driver of the high cost of cancer care, with major impacts for patient access and quality of life.

The President's proposal is the first step in a lengthy budget process. As the process moves forward, we will continue to monitor the potential impacts to cancer prevention and control initiatives and to cancer survivors.

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