Where Is the U.S. on Health Care Now?

Healthcare Clinician Reviewing Brain Scans

As of March 17th of this year, the recent presidential administration and the Republican-majority Congress has made a few moves regarding the weakening of U.S. health care. Here are a few highlights regarding health and medicine in the United States.

New Budget Blueprint

The current president recently released a budget blueprint, referred to as the “skinny” budget, for the 2018 fiscal year. In this initial proposal, the president recommends that the spending for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) be cut by about 18%, which amounts to about $15 billion. The cuts would be from several agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) ($6 billion cut) and health workforce training programs ($403 million cut). The NIH is the primary federal agency responsible for health-related and biomedical research and the largest biomedical research agency in the world. The budget also proposed to restructure public health, NIH, emergency preparedness and prevention programs, and a new $500 million block grant program to states through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other proposals include:

  • A 13.2% decrease for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
  • A 21% reduction in the Department of Labor (DOL)
  • Elimination of the discretionary programs within the Office of Community Services

All of these cuts, by the way, will funnel the “saved” funds to the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security, but it is not known how traumatic brain injury (TBI) programs conducted by the CDC, Administration for Community Living (ACL), or NIH will be affected.

ACA Repeal

The House Budget Committee is still considering repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including provisions to cut and restructure Medicaid. The committee recently voted 19-17 to send the American Health Care Act (AHCA) to the House Rules Committee. House rules prevent the House Budget Committee from making substantive changes to a bill in reconciliation. Recently, the Health and Human Services Secretary met with House Republicans to discuss the possibility of changing provisions related to tax credits and giving states the option of imposing work requirements on people receiving Medicaid. Democratic Senators have scheduled a press conference tomorrow, Congressional Brain Injury Task Force Awareness Day, calling attention to the effect of these proposed changes on people with disabilities.

Democratic Press Conference

Senator Bob Casey, a democratic representative from Pennsylvania, has scheduled a press conference tomorrow from 11:00-11:45 a.m. to be held on the Senate lawn. He will speak about the House proposal to institute Medicaid per capita allotments, reducing the program by $880 billion over the next 10 years, and turning the program over to the states. He will be joined by Senator Margaret Hassan of New Hampshire and former Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa. Senator Casey plans to speak about the effect of the Medicaid cuts on the Senate floor following the conference. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York will also hold a rally for Medicaid later that day.

BIAA Opposes the ADA Education and Reform Act

Last week, the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) signed on to a Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities’ (CDD) letter in opposition of the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620). This bill would create many obstacles for the disabled to enforce their rights under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to access public accommodations. It would also impede their ability to engage in daily activities and participate in mainstream society.

Research Grant Projects on TBI

The National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) has announced a new grant funding opportunity under the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Programs Program (DRRP) for TBI Model System Centers Program. The DRRP’s purpose is to plan and conduct research, demonstration projects, training, and related activities designed to develop methods, procedures, and rehabilitation technology that helps individuals with disabilities maximize their inclusion and integration. The grant opportunity closes on May 9th.

CDC Weekly Report

The CDC recently released “Traumatic Brain Injury-Related Emergency Department Visits, Hospitalizations, and Deaths – United States, 2007 and 2013,” published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The CDC analyzed recent data and reported results on the leading causes of TBI by age, group, and sex. To read the full results, visit the CDC website.

If you were recently injured, or you would like to discuss the legal and health-related ramifications of recent political policies with one of our staff, contact us at (415) 688-2176 or fill out our online form to speak with an experienced San Francisco personal injury attorney. Our firm has handled a wide range of injury cases, and we have earned billions in settlements and verdicts for the people we’ve helped. Let us help you protect your rights to compensation.

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