IDSA responds to proposed budget cuts to NIH, HHS
A budget proposal released by the White House today outlines a $5.8 billion reduction in NIH funds and a $15.1 billion reduction in funding for the Department of Health and Human Services, which will affect emergency preparedness programs within the department.
Although the budget includes a new Federal Emergency Response Fund that will support efforts against public health outbreaks, including Zika, it also proposes reforms to public health, emergency preparedness and prevention programs, and aims to restructure certain HHS preparedness grants in an effort to reduce overlap and administrative costs and to redirect resources to areas with the greatest need. The budget further proposes revolutionizing the CDC through a new $500 million block grant that will increase focus on public health challenges that are specific to each state.
In a recent statement, Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) President William Powderly, MD, FIDSA, said the organization is “deeply troubled” by the proposed cuts to the NIH and HHS and “strongly opposes any funding cut to infectious disease research.” He also stated that IDSA is “very concerned” that the budget intends on lifting sequestration only for defense, which will “further constrict non-defense spending in unspecified ways.”
However, Powderly noted that IDSA welcomes the new federal emergency response funding for outbreaks as well as funding for the Ryan White program and efforts addressing the opioid epidemic, which led to an increase in new cases of HIV and hepatitis C.
“IDSA has repeatedly called for the creation of a new public health emergency fund to ensure that the U.S. can respond rapidly to outbreaks, and we are pleased to see such a proposal included in the blueprint,” Powderly said. “However, many important details about CDC’s budget remain unclear. In particular, IDSA is concerned that cuts to preparedness funding would hamper state and local health departments’ abilities to prepare for and respond to a variety of issues, such as foodborne illnesses, influenza and Zika.”
Powderly urged the administration and Congress to protect progress made in antimicrobial resistance, HIV and vaccine development. He also stressed the importance of using Department of Defense funds for infectious disease research, given that military personal may be exposed to deadly pathogens while traveling abroad.
“IDSA underscores the fact that infectious diseases do not respect borders,” he said. “We are pleased that the administration expressed an intention to honor U.S. commitments to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria as well as global immunization efforts while maintaining PEPFAR funding for patients currently receiving [ART], although the administration’s commitment to maintaining PEPFAR’s overall budget is not clear.
“IDSA looks forward to working with the administration and Congress to ensure that our federal budget reflects bipartisan priorities for protecting patients and public health from infectious disease threats.”
Disclosure: Powderly reports no relevant financial disclosures.