President Trump Releases Budget Recommendations for Fiscal Year 2018

President Donald Trump has recently released his own proposed budget recommendations for federal government funding in the fiscal year of 2018, which begins on October 1st, 2017. The overarching theme of the budget proposals is increasing military spending while significantly reducing federal funding to any “nondefense discretionary” programs. In other words, nonmilitary programs that gain funds through appropriation instead of entitlement will be cut, including numerous safety net programs and those that fund brain injury research, care, and support, as well as other healthcare programs.

If the budget recommendations are eventually approved, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) Federal Traumatic Brain Injury Program will take a 66% budget decrease, from $9 million to $3 million. This is expected to immediately terminate the TBI State Implementation Grant Program, as the reduced budget can only hold up the Protection & Advocacy TBI Grant Program. However, the Trump Administration might eliminate that program as well and replace it with a new program: Partnership for Innovation, Inclusion, and Independence. This proposed program would effectively combine the preexisting ACL TBI program, the State Developmental Disabilities Councils, and Part B of the Independent Living Services (ILS) Program. When working in conjunction, the three programs provide much-needed services to people living with brain injuries, such as occupational training, and they also help with research efforts. However, this combination is ambitious, as it would attempt to do so with only 50% of the funding those three programs receive separately.

The National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) of the ACL is also set to be cut down to a budget of only $9 million. This institute is currently a leading on brain injury research, a position that could be jeopardized by the budget cut. Other institutions slated for large budget cuts are the National Institutions of Health (NIH) with a 20% cut, the National Institution of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) with a 24% cut – priced out at a $428 million reduction – and the complete elimination of the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is also subject to massive budget cuts if the proposals are approved. In particular, the Elder Falls Prevention Program is entirely eliminated, the Injury Control Research Centers program is completely eliminated, and the Core State Violence and Injury Prevention Program is cut by $8.6 million.

Other federal healthcare programs and institutions that are subject to large budget cuts include, but are not limited to:

  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

Organizations Weigh In the Budget, Other Bills

Both the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) were quick to voice disapproval of the Trump Administration’s fiscal year 2018 budget plans. In other corners of the government, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) criticized the recently passed American Health Care Act of 2017, or TrumpCare as many have taken to calling it, as it is meant to repeal and replace the colloquial ObamaCare. The CBO has warned that TrumpCare will lead to the coverage loss for 23 million Americans within the next decade.

An amendment to the TrumpCare bill has already been proposed, which would let states waive some of the federal rules regarding necessary insurance coverage. In theory, this would reduce that 23 million number, but only marginally. Furthermore, more people would be able to get healthcare insurance under the amendment’s flexible rules only because it would become acceptable to offer less coverage, or to cover less conditions. In the end, most of the cost would fall upon older Americans seeking new healthcare coverage, and funding set aside by the White House to mitigate those costs is not enough, states the CBO.

More controversy surrounding TrumpCare was stirred up when it was determined that the elimination of certain Medicaid programs would negatively impact military veterans. Nearly two million veterans, based on some estimations, would either lose coverage or be expected to pay more for necessary treatments, medications, and rehabilitations.

Replacing TrumpCare Before It Begins

Multiple Senators have already announced a plan to replace TrumpCare. When it asked for input from the public and private organizations, the Brain Injury Association of America explained that any proposal that cuts Medicaid and other federal funding should be rejected and sent back for review. It warned that necessary treatments and expected benefits would be reduced so severely and so suddenly, states would be forced to ration them out, like care packages during a national disaster. There is currently a Capitol Hill Fly-In planned by multiple groups to take place on June 27th.

Other Attempts to Protect Healthcare Coverage

Representatives from both the Democratic and Republican parties have begun drafting additional bills that would effectively mitigate the impact of both TrumpCare and the proposed fiscal year 2018 budget. Jim Sensenbrenner out of Wisconsin has drafted the Disability Integration Act, which gives people living with long-term or lifelong disabilities more rights when deciding how or where to receive support. Bill Cassidy, a Senator in Louisiana, has drafted the Steve Gleason Act, which would primarily provide speech assistance devices for those with permanent speech impairments.

Congressional members are currently out for recess but it is believed that those that returned to home districts will participate in local-level meetings to discuss the proposed changes and ongoing concerns. If there are any such events or discussions happening in your own town hall, Scarlett Law Group and our San Francisco brain injury attorneys encourage you to participate. In order to keep brain injury support programs afloat, it may be up to each and every one of us to let our Congress members know that we are against such budget cuts and changes.

If you require a San Francisco personal injury attorney for a brain injury claim of your own, you can contact us at any time to schedule an initial case review.

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