Trump Releases FY 2018 Budget, Cuts Discretionary Spending
Earlier this week, President Trump released his budget proposal for fiscal year 2018. Most significantly, the President requested that Congress cut $54 billion in nondefense discretionary spending to offset a $54 billion increase in defense spending. Cuts to nondefense discretionary spending mean cuts to health and education services and programs, including programs for mental health and addictions.
President Trump’s proposed budget is not a comprehensive document, including only topline funding levels for a select number of agencies and programs. Below is a summary of the most important provisions for behavioral health providers:
- Health and Human Services (HHS): Set the entire HHS budget at $69 billion for FY2018, a $15.1 billion decrease (about 18%) from FY 2017. It is noted in the document that this funding level excludes additional resources for the implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act.
- Opioid Addiction Funding: Includes an increase of $500 million for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to expand opioid misuse prevention efforts and to increase access to treatment and recovery services to help Americans who are misusing opioids get the help they need. This spending is the second half of the allotted $1 billion in state grant programs passed under the 21st Century Cures Act last December.
- Mental Health: Invests in mental health activities that are awarded to high-performing entities and focus on high priority areas, such as suicide prevention, serious mental illness, and children’s mental health. More details on this provisions are not yet available.
- Veterans Administration: Includes a $4.6 billion increase for VA health care –details are not yet available regarding to what extent this money would increase veterans access to mental health and addiction treatment services.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH): Reduces NIH spending relative to the 2017 annualized continuing resolution level by $5.8 billion to $25.9 billion.
No timeline has yet been released on when the Congress will begin negotiations for next year’s appropriations. While this budget proposal sets funding goals for FY2018, the Congress and the President must first finalize spending the remainder of FY2017. Current government funding is set to run out at the end of April 2017.