Bush Plan Would Cut Funding for Uninsured
President Bush's $1.9 trillion FY 2002 budget will "propose deep cuts" in a number of health programs designed to help the uninsured, the New York Times reports. According to HHS budget documents, funding for many programs providing "health care access for the uninsured" would drop 86%, to $20 million, down from $140 million this fiscal year. The programs received $40 million in fiscal year 2000 (Pear, New York Times, 4/4). In a budget draft, Bush proposed cuts for rural health, disease prevention, child care, mental health and minority health initiatives (Meckler,
AP/Nando Times, 4/3). A White House spokesperson said yesterday that Bush plans to "phase out" the Community Access Program, an initiative that helps communities to "link up" with hospitals and clinics for those lacking health coverage, the Times reports. The spokesperson added, "Creating new federal grants is not the best way to address health care access. It's an efficacy issue." Although the White House has not disclosed many details in Bush's budget, which includes a 10-year, $1.6 trillion tax cut, yesterday provided the "second example of significant cuts" in health programs, including cuts in some programs for children and children's hospitals. White House officials said that HHS would receive a 5%, or $2.7 billion, boost next year, raising the department's budget to $55.5 billion -- but "all of the net increase goes to the NIH for support of biomedical research, not for the direct care of patients," the Times reports.
Budget documents show Bush would cut federal spending for training doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals from $353 million this year to $259 million next year. However, Bush administration officials said that since the documents were prepared, they had decided to "make even deeper cuts," providing only $140 million for training health professionals, a 60% dip in funding from this year. White House officials "defend[ed]" the proposal, citing an "oversupply" of doctors, but opponents said that the program also funds training for nurses, "who are in short supply," as well as family practitioners, internists and other doctors who "work in underserved areas." In addition, Bush's budget would provide no additional funding for the Ryan White CARE Act, which received $1.8 billion this year, offering "no allowance" for inflation in the cost of medical care and "expensive" drugs used to "combat" HIV (New York Times, 4/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.