On Monday, February 4, 2008, President Bush released his budget for fiscal year 2009. The administration’s budget request would cut or freeze spending for most health programs, including research and public health programs affecting the bleeding disorders community. The budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which includes funding for hemophilia treatment centers (HTCs) and bleeding disorders research, would be cut 7% from the 2008 figure. The National Institutes of Health budget, the main source of medical research funding in the country, will remain unchanged. The growth in Medicare spending will be cut dramatically, with reductions in payments to providers constituting the bulk of the decrease. Medicaid spending will also decrease, but by a much smaller amount.
The president’s budget does provide for a $4 billion per year increase in funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). This amount is less than what Democratic and many Republican congressional members called for last year, but it is significantly higher than the president’s original proposal. However, the increase in funding is coupled with undesirable policy proposals, including a cap on participation at twice the federal poverty level. NHF has followed this issue closely for the past year, and we will continue to do so as the budget process moves forward.
This proposed budget does not automatically become the 2009 budget. In fact, Democratic leaders in Congress are pronouncing it "dead-on-arrival." While the president is already threatening to veto any appropriations bills that exceed his budget, it is possible that Congress will delay any action on appropriations bills until after the next election.