President Joe Biden's budget reiterates his calls to have Congress pass legislation allowing the federal government to negotiate for lower prices on drugs covered by Medicare; reducing deductibles in ACA plans; improving Medicare benefits to include dental, hearing and vision; creating a public option; lowering the Medicare eligibility age; and closing the Medicaid coverage gap in non-expansion states. The request doesn't specify how much those policies would cost or how to pay for it. The president's budget is mostly a messaging document that Congress is unlikely to pass in full. But it lays out his priorities for his time in office.
Here are some details:
- HHS would get $134 billion in discretionary funding, a 23% increase over what Congress approved last year.
- $905 billion for the Strategic National Stockpile, a $200 million increase over 2020.
- $292 million for the Hospital Preparedness Program, an increase of $11 million from last year.
- $17 million to "improve operations and oversight" of the 340B program, a $7 million increase over 2020.
- $1.3 billion toward the National Health Service Corps, diversity training programs, and behavioral health workforce development programs and $330 million to Graduate Medical Education.
- $6.5 billion to fund a new health research agency that would focus on cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's and other diseases.
Already announced budget items:
- $8.7 billion in funding for the CDC, an increase of $1.6 billion over last year, marking the largest funding increase for the agency in nearly two decades. The increase would include funding for the CDC's Social Determinants of Health program to improve health equity and data collection.
- $10.7 billion to address the opioid epidemic, an increase of $4 billion from what Congress approved last year.
- $1.6 billion on the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant to address COVID's impact on mental health.
- NIH would receive additional funding to study the health impacts of climate change, part of HHS' efforts to advance health equity.
Biden's budget proposal also hints at changing Medicaid payments to insurers and providers.
The budget request includes several proposals Biden already introduced in his so-called jobs and families plans, including permanently extending ACA subsidies to middle-income earners and spending $400 billion to expand access to home-and community-based services and raise wages benefits for caretakers.