President Donald Trump released his fiscal year 2018 budget request on Thursday, outlining a plan that shifts significant funds to defense programs and away from health agencies and services. Specifically, the request proposes a $54 billion increase in defense spending, offset by devastating funding cuts to nondefense discretionary programs.
“This budget proposal presents a fiscal agenda that would undermine the health and well-being of Americans,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, executive director of APHA in a statement. “Cuts to these agencies would threaten programs that protect the public from the next infectious disease outbreak, polluted air and water, health threats due to climate change and our growing chronic disease epidemic. It would also weaken our nation’s health workforce, which works to assure and improve the health of all of our communities, especially underserved and vulnerable populations.”
Among the many programs at risk, the budget calls for cutting $15.1 billion from the Department of Health and Human Services — a nearly 18 percent decrease from 2017 levels — $26 billion from the Environmental Protection Agency — a 31 percent decrease from 2017 levels — and eliminates $403 million in funding to train health professionals and nurses. In addition, the president has proposed an FY 2017 supplemental funding request for defense and border security while recommending Congress slash $18 billion from nondefense discretionary programs as an offset five months into the fiscal year.
“Americans already live shorter lives and suffer more health problems than our peers in other high-income countries,” said Benjamin. “To become a healthier and more secure nation, we must invest in the health and safety of everyone, and not just in our military. Further cuts to the critical programs funded through discretionary health funding put us further away from this goal.
“Public health and environmental health programs are vital to helping Americans lead healthy, productive lives — which saves money, makes our communities stronger and helps our nation grow and prosper. We urge this administration and Congress to pass sensible and balanced fiscal year 2018 spending bills that protect the public’s health.”