2021 Budget Proposal Cuts Funding for CDC, NIH, and CMS

The Trump administration issued its proposed budget for the 2021 fiscal year, which contains substantial cuts to several federal health-care agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The proposed cuts are part of the administration’s attempt to trim $844 billion from the national budget over a decade through short- and long-term changes. While the 2021 CMS budget is estimated at $1.2 trillion (an increase over 2020’s budget), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS’) “Budget in Brief” document calls for a reduction of $1.6 trillion in budget allocation for CMS’ mandatory programs over the next 10 years. The savings would be achieved through increasing anti-fraud efforts in states that opted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

The administration also proposed reducing NIH’s budget by nearly $3 billion, dropping the budget for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to $0, and decreasing the CDC’s discretionary budget by $1.3 billion. For the CDC, this represents a 19% decrease from 2020 and includes $25 million in cuts to funding for public health preparedness and response to emerging infections.

Certain agencies will see an increase in their budgets under the proposal, including the FDA, the Indian Health Service, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“While Americans have the best health-care options in the world, rising health-care costs continue to be a top financial concern,” the HHS document read. “The president’s great health-care vision will ensure better care at lower costs.”

The proposed cuts were met with criticism from several health-care stakeholders.

“You can’t cut $1 trillion from these programs and protect the most vulnerable,” said Aviva Aron-Dine, PhD, Vice President of Health Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and a former Obama administration budget and health care official.

“The arbitrary cuts to health-care programs envisioned in the budget will make the job of America’s caregivers much more difficult,” said Chip Kahn, MPH, President and CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals, in a statement. “This is no time to cut the Medicare and Medicaid programs that so many Americans depend on.”

Sources: The New York Times, February 10, 2020; Department of Health and Human Services, “FY 2021 President’s Budget for HHS.”