However, no increase seen for some ACP priorities, such as public option for health coverage or Medicare negotiation of drug prices
April 15, 2022 (ACP) -- While President Biden's proposed 2022-2023 budget does not go far enough in some areas, the American College of Physicians is pleased with many suggestions for increased spending in programs and departments that support health.
“We're really happy about the proposed funding increases,” said Jared Frost, ACP senior associate for legislative affairs, although he noted that nothing is firm at this point.
“The president's budget is only a blueprint or a proposal,” he cautioned. “With that said, an administration's budget proposal is really important because it's a clear statement of priorities and lets Congress know what spending levels it desires enacted for federal departments, agencies and programs.”
As Frost noted, the president is required to submit a proposed budget to Congress. This current proposed budget is for the fiscal year that runs from Oct. 1, 2022, to Sept. 30, 2023.
“We have seen over the past couple of years how important governmental support for health care and public health is to ensure the health of the American public,” Dr. George M. Abraham, president of ACP, said in a statement. “We are glad to see that President Biden's budget proposal recognizes the important role of health and health care services and programs.”
ACP is especially pleased about proposed spending in these areas:
- A new Vaccines for Adults Program to ensure that uninsured adults are able to access all of the vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices at no cost.
- Mental health workforce, pandemic preparedness, biodefense and public health systems and capacity. The CDC is proposed to receive $9.7 billion, more than a $2 billion increase.
- Initiatives to improve maternal health and to increase health equity.
- The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which performs and funds important health service research and has long been a target to have its funding eliminated and/or folded into the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This agency receives a $26 million increase to $376 million under the new administration's proposal.
- The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health. The Biden administration not only emphasized NIH funding but has for a second year proposed a new agency that is intended to be nimbler and less risk-averse than other institutes within NIH to bring new cures and treatments more rapidly to patients. A total of $5 billion is proposed for the agency.
- Workforce programs administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. This includes increased funding for crucial public health initiatives like the Title X family planning program and gun violence research.
- The National Health Service Corps, which provides loan repayment and scholarships for clinicians to serve in underserved areas. This agency is proposed to receive an $88 million boost in spending.
“While the budget proposal continues to be a vast improvement for the policies and programs that ACP supports, it doesn't go ‘big’ in some areas of health care policy, such as proposing a public option for health coverage or letting Medicare negotiate for prescription drugs,” Frost explained. “These are policies that the president has supported. While the budget proposal expresses general support for these policies and the intention to work with Congress to enact them, there are no specific, detailed plans regarding these issues included in the budget proposal.”
ACP is also disappointed that the budget does not include a massive funding boost for existing health care workforce programs such as the Title VII health professions workforce program, which funds programs to train clinicians and increases the supply, diversity and distribution of the physician and health professions workforce.
“Unfortunately, the Biden budget misses this opportunity,” Frost said. “For example, the Section 747 training in primary care medicine program, which is the only federal program that trains internal medicine physicians in primary care, is increased for the first time in years, but the $5 million increase is much less than what would be needed to address the primary care physician shortage and move the needle.”
According to Frost, it is unlikely that Congress will amend or approve President Biden's full budget proposal. “Rather,” he explained, “Congress can pick and choose -- as well as modify -- all, some or none of the proposals contained in the president's budget. Congress can also choose to enact any of the president's budget proposals through different legislative proposals such as budget reconciliation or separate authorizing legislation and/or can fund them through one, some or all of 12 annual appropriations bills.”
ACP will advocate for its spending priorities over the next several months as the budget process continues, Frost said.