April 9, 2001 (Washington) -- Taking a key early step in the annual Washington budget negotiations dance, the administration Monday officially delivered to Congress hundreds of pages of documents containing its proposals for national spending for 2002.
In late February, Bush released initial budget numbers, but this submission fills in the details of his plan. Overall, President Bush is asking for $55.5 billion for discretionary programs under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), a 5.1% increase over last year.
Medicare, the government health insurance plan for Americans aged 65 and older and younger people with disabilities, covers nearly 47 million people. It is an expensive program, and with more Americans living longer and millions of baby boomers about to turn 65, the program is expected to grow, covering as many as 80 million people by the year 2030.
At the current rate of spending, officials estimate that Medicare’s Part A trust fund, which mostly pays for hospital care, will be unable to cover...
Nearly all of the health spending increase goes to the National Institutes of Health, which is getting a 13.5%, or $2.8 billion, boost for its biomedical research activities. Another big winner is the FDA, which is netting a nearly 10% boost, with large increases in food safety initiatives, including a mad cow disease prevention effort and tougher rules for imported food and healthcare products.
At the same time, the budget cuts funds by 3% at the CDC, as well as money for various public health programs, including a hemophilia relief program, "community access" grants to coordinate the delivery of safety-net healthcare, and other initiatives.
"There's some grumbling," HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson acknowledged, regarding those agencies that received cuts. But he contended that many of the cutbacks were "one-time" set-aside projects done for specific members of Congress.
Thompson said, "The American people don't expect annual budgets to be growing by double digits, for their family budgets certainly don't grow at that pace."
The proposal would also slash spending on grants for the training of doctors. And to speed conversion to electronic billing, the plan would also charge doctors and other providers a $1.50 fee for submitting paper-based reimbursement claims to Medicare.
But Thompson touted a $123 million increase in spending on safety-net community health centers and a 7.2% increase for government efforts in AIDS/HIV research, treatment, and prevention. Thompson repeatedly spoke of the hope of finding an AIDS vaccine.