Highlights of 2011 Presidential Budget for HHS
President Barack Obama’s $3.8 trillion 2011 budget, which he submitted to Congress on Feb. 1, includes $81.3 billion for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide essential human services. A lion’s share will go to states to cover a six-month increase in Medicaid funding. Also included in the budget are funds for expanding health care fraud initiatives, primary care physician access, food and drug safety, biomedical research and more.
Although the biggest sum of money ($25.5 billion) will go to support state Medicaid programs by temporarily increasing federal funding from Jan. 1, 2011 through June 2011, other areas that reside under the HHS umbrella are not forgotten.
The budget provides $4 billion in total Food and Drug Administration (FDA) resources; $2.5 billion for health centers to provide affordable high quality primary and preventive care to under-served populations, including the uninsured; and $286 million for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to conduct research that compares the effectiveness of different medical options.
The president also “places a renewed emphasis on preventing, detecting, and recouping fraudulent, wasteful, and abusive payments in Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program,” with $250 million to expand Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) initiatives—a joint effort by HHS and the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The administration says it will also strengthen its Medicare requirements to “assure that air ambulance operators comply with aviation safety standards.” As written, the president’s budget would increase discretionary health care fraud and abuse control spending from $198 million in 2009 to an estimated $561 million in 2011.
President Obama’s 2011 budget also includes:
- $169 million for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) to place providers in medically under-served areas to improve access to needed health care services;
- $110 million for health information technology (IT) policy, coordination and research activities;
- $79 million to improve access to and the quality of care at health care in rural areas; and
- $6 billion for biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH);
- and more.
The 2011 budget includes approximately $900 billion in total HHS outlays—including $371 billion over a decade to pay for the cost of preventing Medicare pay cuts under the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula. “But the funding would only be enough to turn annual reductions into rate freezes, not to fund pay raises,” writes American Medical News. Also, the president left the specifics of how to prevent the cuts up to Congress, said Jonathan Blum, director of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Center for Medicare Management.
A PDF with complete HHS budgetary highlights is available on the official White House website.
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