US budget plan includes support for readiness, research, response

A bipartisan plan to fund the US government through the end of September mainly spares infectious disease, research, and preparedness efforts from deep cuts signaled by President Donald Trump's earlier budget proposals, but it appears to reduce support for global health organizations.

The 2017 Omnibus appropriations bill, unveiled Sunday, could be up for House and Senate votes by the end of the week and would avert a government shutdown and fund the government through the rest of the 2017 fiscal year. A summary from the House Appropriations Committee detailed impacts on 11 budget areas, which include public health and preparedness funding.

HHS, NIH, CDC get boosts

The plan includes $73.5 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which reflects a $2.8 billion increase over last year's level and $3.8 billion more than the previous administration's request.

Within that funding is $2 billion more for the National Institutes of Health, and antibiotic resistance was one of four research areas specifically covered. The others are Alzheimer's disease, the brain, and the Precision Medicine Initiative. The bill also includes general increases for developing new treatments and cures.

Earlier this year, Trump's proposed budget outlined deep cuts in research, including at the NIH, to fund other priorities, such as defense and border security.

For the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the bill's $7.3 billion budget reflects an increase of $22 million over 2016 fiscal year funding. The level includes $891 million in transfers from the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF), which was established by the Affordable Care Act to support prevention grants from the CDC to states, counties, and cities.

The PPHF, said to make up more than 12% of the CDC's budget, is at risk if Congress repeals the Affordable Care Act, a step many republicans have vowed to take.

Also, the budget agreement would continue funding for CDC Public Health Preparedness and Response programs, including the Strategic National Stockpile.

USDA receives solid support

Agriculture research programs would get $2.89 billion and would cover work in several areas, including food safety, antimicrobial resistance, and water quality.

The bill targets $949 million for activities at the Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, $51.8 million more than fiscal year 2016 and $45 million above the previous administration's budget request.

One focus is emergency preparedness and response to address potentially devastating outbreaks such as highly pathogenic avian influenza.

For the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, the funding agreement includes $1 billion—$17.2 million above the 2016 level—for mandatory inspection activities to ensure food safety.

FDA level on food safety, more for Zika

The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) share of the budget is $2.8 billion, an increase of $39 million from 2016. If the bill is signed into law, the FDA would see support for its food safety activities rise by $35.7 million and funding for medical product safety activities increase by $10.9 million.

The budget summary noted, however, that the FDA's total budget is $4.67 billion after factoring in user's fees, down $23.3 million from 2016 due to changes in user fee amounts before the fees were reauthorized.

According to a budget analysis yesterday from Science, the budget would include $10 million more to address Zika virus and other disease threats.

Some global support, but UN cuts

The bill reduces funding for United Nations (UN) agencies, presumably including the World Health Organization, by $640 million. It also withholds funds from UN and international organizations until financial audits are made public and whistleblower protections are in place.

In terms of specific diseases, the budget bill maintains support for eradicating polio ($52 million), fighting tuberculosis ($241 million), controlling malaria ($755 million), and providing clean water and sanitation ($400 million).

Also, the legislation includes $142 million to prepare for and respond to emerging health threats, including $70 million for a new Emergency Reserve Fund to enable a more rapid response to infectious disease outbreaks that the Secretary of State deems as a severe threat to human health.

See also:

May 1 House Appropriations Committee press release on government funding bill

May 1 Science report

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