Following release of the White House fiscal year 2013 budget proposal earlier this month, Mary Wakefield, chief administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration, paid a visit to APHA offices on Thursday to discuss the agency’s budget with members of the Friends of HRSA Coalition, a group of national health organizations led by APHA that advocates to protect funding for the agency. The annual briefing gives members a chance to learn about how HRSA intends to allocate the resources laid out in the budget.
“It is [the coalition’s] job to publicly try to enhance that budget as best as we can,” said APHA’s Georges Benjamin, who welcomed the coalition to APHA and introduced Wakefield.
Wakefield, who has served as administrator for three years, struck a more somber tone than in years past.
“I’ve been coming to these conversations at APHA to talk about boosts in funding in all of our HRSA programs,” said Wakefield.
However, this year’s budget proposal stands in a bit of a contrast. The president’s budget included $6.17 billion for HRSA’s discretionary budget program, down from $6.4 billion in fiscal year 2012. Between 2009 and 2012, the agency has seen an unprecedented infusion of federal funds due in large part to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus and the Affordable Care Act. This year’s proposal, due to current economic circumstances and pressures, has outlined a number of decreases in HRSA’s operating divisions and agencies.
“We saw a flat budget, which under current circumstances is something of an achievement,” said Wakefield.
Here’s a basic breakdown of how some of the agency’s budget is being allocated:
- $3 billion for steady and sustainable health centers;
- $2.5 billion for HIV/AIDS programs, including the Ryan White and AIDS drug assistance programs;
- $1 billion for supporting healthy family initiatives; and
- $867 million to increase the capacity and distribution of the health care workforce.
“Our work with key stakeholders is a partnership,” acknowledged Wakefield. “You help us shape and deploy the resources we have in both an efficient and intelligent manner.”
A finalized operating plan is expected to be published on HRSA’s web site within the next month.