The health issues raised in President Biden’s budget proposal can be a starting point to catalyze bipartisan discussion and are a reason his budget matters.
Last week, President Biden unveiled a $1.7 trillion budget for the Department of Health and Human Services — including an 11.5% increase in his discretionary budget authority for fiscal year 2024. Account given the looming debt ceiling deadline and concerns about government spending and tax increases, conventional wisdom suggests that a continued resolution – one that does not increase spending – will be the most likely way that Congress decides to fund the government next year. That being said, the health issues raised in President Biden’s budget proposal can be a starting point to catalyze bipartisan discussion and are a reason why his budget matters.
Here are five issues raised by the President that are particularly worthy of bipartisan discussion during the federal appropriations process:
1) How to improve mental health and well-being?
It is essential that all Americans know that 9-8-8 is the number to call in the event of a mental health or addiction crisis. The President’s budget proposes increases for local crisis centers, mobile crisis response and first responders to support the 9-8-8 crisis lifeline, which needs significant strengthening as detailed in a recent Bipartisan Policy Center report. Additionally, greater attention is warranted to appropriately reimburse and match behavioral health professionals to areas of unmet need.
2) How do we ensure we are better prepared for the next pandemic?
COVID-19 has highlighted the need for improved communications by public officials, more robust real-time data systems, and increased investment in medical countermeasures, supply chains, and health care. public health personnel. The president is proposing a multi-year, multi-billion dollar budget to quickly respond to future pandemics. Congressional oversight of past actions is important, but the public also deserves forward-looking attention so that we can strengthen biomedical and public health infrastructure and respond effectively to the next pandemic.
3) What are we doing about poor diet, America’s number one risk factor for death?
With obesity rates of 40% in adults and 20% in children, it is imperative that policy makers focus on increasing access to healthy foods, encouraging the production and sale of healthier and to urge our healthcare system to treat obesity as a medical condition. The president’s budget aims to improve food labeling and expand community nutrition programs and services. Separately, additional funding is being proposed to modernize infant formula monitoring, an issue that has affected many families over the past year.
4) How do you ensure that Medicare remains solvent and promotes healthy beneficiaries?
This $850 billion program provides health insurance to 67 million beneficiaries. The president’s budget aims to boost solvency for at least 25 years, beyond current projections, by raising taxes on high-income earners and accelerating drug price negotiations. Those of us working in Washington expect Republican leaders in Congress to come up with our own ideas on Medicare reforms. A program that serves a significant portion of the American population is too important to be politicized and deserves serious discussion.
5) How can we better support underserved and vulnerable populations?
The proposed budget invests in maternal health, increases access to HIV preventive drugs and hepatitis C cures, expands access to health and public health services for American Indians and populations Alaska Natives, and strengthens Medicaid home and community services to help older Americans and people with disabilities. Many of these issues are of bipartisan interest. Compromising on an approach for everyone would result in tangible benefits for millions of Americans.
It would be a mistake to reject the president’s budget. Evaluations of ongoing programs, accounting for past expenditures, reviewing justifications for new funds, and identifying budget offsets are important factors that should be considered as part of the appropriation process. While politics may ultimately require continued resolve, the American public deserves better.