Even though it is unlikely that President Donald Trump’s 2018 federal budget proposal will be enacted as released, its massive cuts still represent a starting point for negotiations. And that is what worries public health advocates.

“Americans already live shorter lives and suffer more health problems than our peers in other high-income countries,” said APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD, in an APHA news release on the March 16 budget proposal. “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.”

Trump’s brief budget outline — a more detailed proposal is expected from the White House this month — recommends cutting funding for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services by $15.1 billion, or nearly 18 percent. The proposal is short on details, but states the federal budget still “supports” direct services, such as those delivered by community health centers, Ryan White HIV/AIDS providers and the Indian Health Service, though it does not mention specific funding numbers. The proposal states that the federal budget “supports efficient operations” of Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Among those programs, the only funding number offered is a proposed $70 million increase to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid’s Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control program. The budget also calls for a $500 million increase over 2016 levels for opioid abuse and treatment.

To continue reading this story from the May 2017 issue of The Nation’s Health, visit the newspaper online. The White House is expected to release its budget proposal tomorrow.