President Biden has introduced his 2024 budget, and there are some elements that will appeal to the healthcare industry, while some advocates hoped for greater investments in research.
Biden introduced his $6.8 trillion plan in Philadelphia Thursday, but some elements were introduced earlier this week.
The president proposes to raise taxes on those earning more than $400,000 annually as part of a plan to extend Medicare’s solvency by 25 years. Biden also wants the government to have more ability to negotiate prescription drug prices. Republicans, who now control the House, are likely to object and could well block those efforts, as The New York Times reports.
However, Biden has also proposed several other elements in his spending plan aimed at healthcare and research that should be less controversial.
Both Democratic and Republicans tend to be strong supporters of programs aiding hospitals and research. Some proposals for research are drawing applause, but some want to see a bigger boost for medical studies. With the budget being introduced three years after the arrival of COVID-19, the administration wants to spend more on pandemic preparedness.
Biden’s budget is usually just a starting point for crafting spending priorities with lawmakers. Even in less partisan times, the president’s budget is essentially a wish list. But at least when it comes to some health and research programs, some proposals are likely to merit some attention, and even some agreement.
Here are some of the highlights related to healthcare and research. (For more details, dive into the 169-page budget proposal for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.)
Biden has proposed a 1.7% increase in spending for the National Institutes of Health, the chief source of federal aid for medical research. Research!America, an advocacy group for federal investments in scientific studies, expressed disappointment and said it doesn’t reflect the public’s desire for greater spending on research.
Mary Woolley, Research!America’s president and CEO, called for an increase of 10%, or $4.7 billion.
“The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the multi-pronged significance of public and private sector-fueled medical progress. If the NIH is not equipped to rise to the challenge against threats as far-reaching as COVID-19, as prevalent as cardiovascular disease, and as tragic as rare childhood diseases, we as a nation will be gambling with the health, security, and prosperity of the American people for generations to come,” Woolley said in a statement.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have supported the NIH, so this is one area where the president’s proposal could actually be increased.
The president is calling for a significant boost for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Biden is proposing nearly $11.6 billion for the CDC, about $2.4 billion above current spending.
CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky said the proposal “aligns with the agency’s vision to revitalize the nation’s public health infrastructure; strengthen our ability to detect and respond to pandemic threats; and bolster the core capabilities of the nation’s entire public health system.”
The administration says it’s asking Congress for $20 billion for various pandemic preparedness programs across a variety of agencies, including the NIH, CDC, the Food and Drug Administration, and others.
Federal Health Centers
Biden is calling for $7.1 billion for Health Centers, an increase of $1.3 billion. The administration says the budget puts the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) on a path to doubling in five years. At that level, the health department says the Health Centers would serve more than 33 million Americans.
The Food and Drug Administration would get $7.2 billion, an increase of $521 million above current spending. FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf said in a statement that the president’s plan would allow for continued modernization of the agency and “investments to strengthen medical product safety and availability.”
Most health systems say they’re struggling to find healthcare workers. Biden’s budget offers some long-term assistance to help address the issue.
The White House proposes $966 million for the National Health Service Corps, which provides scholarships and loan repayment for healthcare professionals willing to work in underserved areas. The budget also calls for $350 million to expand programs to train nurses.
Biden has made the “Cancer Moonshot” – a goal to end cancer as we know it – one of the more well-known components of his healthcare research agenda. His plan calls for $716 million to the NIH for dedicated Cancer Moonshot activities, and another $839 for the CDC for various Cancer Moonshot initiatives.
The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), the federal government’s newest research agency, would get $2.5 billion in 2024, an increase of $1 billion. The Biden administration created the agency to support novel, cutting-edge studies that have the potential to produce breakthroughs in cancer and other diseases.
The Biden administration is proposing $564 million for the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research, a 20% increase. The administration wants AHRQ to engage in more studies of behavioral health, the effectiveness of telehealth, and to gather more data on maternal health.
Research!America said it applauded the proposal, calling it another step to undo years of insufficient funding for the agency.
Noting that the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed nations, Biden is proposing $471 million across federal programs toward programs to reduce maternal deaths. The CDC would get an additional $56 million for programs to reduce maternal mortality.
The administration also requires all states to provide Medicaid coverage for 12 months postpartum. Currently, some states don’t offer such coverage, as the Kaiser Family Foundation notes.