President Releases FY 2016 Budget Proposal
President Obama released his Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 budget proposal this week, calling for overall funding increases, including flat funding and modest increases for HIV programs. The total budget is $4.1 trillion in discretionary and mandatory spending. Funding for discretionary programs, or programs that must be appropriated each year by Congress, was increased by about $74 billion and is divided between $605 billion for defense discretionary funding and $563 billion for non-defense discretionary spending, which covers all federal funding for domestic HIV programs.
President Obama’s FY 2016 budget proposed either flat funding (at FY 2015 levels) or, in a few cases, modest increases for the domestic HIV portfolio. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) budget, which covers a majority of domestic HIV/AIDS programs, would receive a total of $83.8 billion. The President’s budget once again called for the consolidation of Ryan White Program Parts C and D, which would receive a $4 million increase as a single program. All other parts of the Ryan White Program are flat funded in the proposal. AIDS United continues to oppose the consolidation of Part C and Part D and will advocate Congress not to include this consolidation in their appropriation.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention (DHAP) received a $6.4 million increase, and the Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) received $6.3 million increase. The CDC’s National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention received a $44 million increase. Viral Hepatitis received $31.5 million increase doubling the portfolio, the funding will align with the HHS Action Plan for the Prevention, Care, and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of AIDS Research receives a $90 million increase from FY 2015 in the president’s budget. Abstinence-only programs do not receive funding for either discretionary or mandatory programs in the budget proposal. Title X family planning programs received an increase of $13.5 million. Although the president’s numbers show a decrease for Community Health Centers (CHCs), the CHCs are actually flat funded for FY 2016 because they retain $869 million in reserve funds from FY 2015. The FY 2015 reserve funding was intended to be used for Fiscal Years 2016, 2017, and 2018.
The Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) program received a $2 million increase and President Obama included his proposal to modernize the HOPWA program by changing the formula to count living HIV, fair market rent and poverty factors.
Secretary Burwell stated that the HHS budget is designed to build on President Obama’s plan to strengthen the middle class. Aside from the HIV-specific portfolio, the budget would save $423 billion over ten years by slowing Medicare spending. It also expands access to affordable quality healthcare, invests $4.2 billion in discretionary and mandatory funding for the Community Health Centers, proposes an increase of $1 billion to the National Institutes of Health, and extends the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which needs to be reauthorized by Congress this year. The proposal would also permanently address the so-called “Doc Fix” by structuring the budget under the assumption that Congress will repeal the controversial Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula.
As in past years, the Obama Administration’s budget requests that communities be allowed to make the decision to use federal funding for syringe exchange in conjunction with local law and health authorities. Unfortunately, the new Congress seems likely to continue the outdated and ineffective ban on the use of federal funds for syringe exchange.