The TRUTH About Trump’s Budget: NO Cuts to Medicare Benefits, Big Wins For Patients

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President Donald Trump submitted his fiscal year 2021 budget proposal, which is unlikely to pass the Democrat House of Representatives but nonetheless is garnering vicious attacks from Trump’s Democrat opponents.

Though the budget slashes Medicare spending — a fact that Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is seizing on — the Trump administration made clear that there are NO cuts to Medicare benefits for beneficiaries.

Rather, the budget cuts a tremendous amount of re-imbursement money that would otherwise go to Medicare providers, including hospitals that charge too much.

“The Budget would extend the solvency of the Medicare program by at least 25 years for America’s seniors,” the Budget document states.

If the mainstream media actually read Trump’s “A Budget For America’s Future,” they would know that Trump uses long-term savings to fund his offensive against the opioid epidemic, HIV/AIDS, Big Pharma’s costly drug prices, wildfires, and so much more.

Here are just a few highlights directly from the text:

Takes On The Opioid Epidemic

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rates of drug overdose deaths are rising in rural communities, surpassing the rate in urban areas.  Through the President’s leadership and the role of the Secretary as Chairman of the Task Force on Agriculture and rural Prosperity, the Department is approaching the opioid crisis with a dedicated urgency by partnering with local communities to provide program resources for prevention, treatment, and recovery.  The Budget proposes $44 million in distance learning and telemedicine grants, of which 20 percent would be dedicated to projects that combat the opioid crisis and keep rural communities safe…”

Stands Up To Big Pharma On Drug Prices

“The 2021 Budget includes an allowance for bipartisan drug pricing proposals.  The Administration supports legislative efforts to improve the Medicare Part D benefit by establishing an out-of-pocket maximum, improving incentives to contain costs, and reducing out-of-pocket expenses for seniors.  The Administration also supports changes to bring lower-cost generic and biosimilar drugs to patients.  These efforts would increase competition, reduce drug prices, and lower out-of-pocket costs for patients at the pharmacy counter.”

Fights HIV/AIDS

The 2021 Budget includes $716 million for the second year of the multiyear initiative to eliminate new HIV infections in America.  each year, there are approximately 40,000 new HIV infections in the United States, the majority clustered in a limited number of counties.  The United States has the ability to end the epidemic, with the availability of effective biomedical interventions such as antiretroviral therapy and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PreP).  The Budget  includes:  $371 million for CDC to reduce new HIV infections; $302 million for Health resources and Services Administration (HrSA) to deliver HIV care through the ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and to supply testing, evaluation, prescription of PreP, and associated medical costs through the Health Centers program; $27 million to the Indian Health Service (IHS) to tackle the epidemic in American Indian and Alaska Native communities; and $16 million for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for evaluation activities to identify effective interventions to treat and prevent HIV.”

BIG Wins For Medical Research

The Budget provides $38 billion for innovative research at NIH to improve public health, $4 billion above the level requested in the 2020 Budget.  NIH would continue to address the opioid epidemic and emerging stimulants, make progress on developing a universal flu vaccine, prioritize vector-borne disease research, and support industries of the future.  The Budget funds the second year of the Childhood Cancer Data Initiative to further America’s understanding of the unique causes of, and the best cures for, childhood cancer.”

The threat of mosquito and tickborne diseases continues to rise in the United States.  Cases of tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease and rocky Mountain spotted fever, affected nearly 60,000 Americans in 2017.  The Budget includes $66 million for CDC’s vector-borne disease activities, a $14 million increase compared to the 2020 enacted level which focuses on tick-borne diseases. The Budget also invests in NIH research to improve the Nation’s understanding of vector-borne diseases.”

BIG Wins For Mental Health

The Budget includes $225 million for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC) expansion grants, and extends, through 2021, the CCBHC Medicaid demonstration programs to improve community mental health services for the eight States currently in the demonstration.  These activities make it easier for individuals with mental illness and their families to navigate the healthcare system and get services that they need.  In addition, the Budget includes $125 million to help schools, community organizations, first responders, and other entities identify mental health issues and help affected youth and other individuals get the treatment they need. 

Individuals with SMI [Serious Mental Illness] are more likely to be homeless and have poorer health status than the general population.  The Budget includes an additional $25 million in HHS to expand primary healthcare services for the homeless in cities with high rates of unsheltered homelessness.  In addition, some individuals with SMI need hospitalization, yet there are not always enough inpatient beds to serve them.  Under current law, Medicaid cannot pay for certain inpatient stays at Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMDs).  The Budget modifies the Medicaid IMD exclusion to provide targeted flexibility to States to provide inpatient mental health services to Medicaid beneficiaries with SMI, as part of a comprehensive strategy that includes improvements to community-based treatment.”

Prioritizes Women’s Health

“Women in the United States have higher rates of maternal mortality and morbidity than in any other developed nation—and the rates are rising.  The Budget provides $74 million in new resources to address this significant public health problem by focusing on four strategic goals:  1) achieve healthy outcomes for all women of reproductive age by improving prevention and treatment; 2) achieve healthy pregnancies and births by prioritizing quality improvement; 3) achieve healthy futures by optimizing postpartum health; and 4) improve data and bolster research to inform future interventions.”

Fights Fires

The Administration remains unequivocal about the need to accelerate active forest management on Federal lands.  The Budget reflects this critical priority by requesting $228 million for DOI’s hazardous fuels mitigation work and $177 million for DOI timber programs.  Consistent with the objectives and targets under the President’s executive Order 13855, “Promoting Active Management of America’s Forests, rangelands, and other Federal Lands to Improve Conditions and reduce Wildfire risk,” to promote active forest management, DOI will utilize the full range of available and appropriate forest management tools, including prescribed burns and mechanical thinning to mitigate fuel loads in order to lessen the risk of fire and maintain air quality.  Together, these efforts help ensure that Federal lands are healthy and productive, and that rural communities are more resilient to the destructive impacts of wildfire.  The Budget responsibly funds wildfire suppression costs, including cap adjustment resources made available to DOI and the Forest Service for 2021.”

Helps Rural Americans

“In today’s information-driven global economy, e-connectivity has become an essential component to attract and grow rural businesses.  To that end, the Budget supports continued implementation of the rural e-Connectivity Pilot Program to foster thriving agricultural economies.  The Department also helps to maintain and modernize rural utilities by providing critical support for infrastructure, such as $614 million in funding for water and wastewater grants and loans, supporting $1.9 billion in program level, $5.5 billion in electric loans, and $690 million in telecommunications loans.  Through USDA’s $24 billion portfolio of guaranteed housing loans, the Department assists lenders in providing low- to moderate-income rural Americans with access to affordable housing.  The Budget authorizes a $2.5 billion loan level for community facility direct loans and $500 million for guaranteed loans, which assist communities in developing or improving essential public services and facilities across rural America, such as health clinics or fire and rescue stations.  At the same time, the Budget reduces wasteful spending within the rural Business Service by eliminating ineffective programs and instead supporting a $1.5 billion loan level for business and industry guaranteed loans, an increase of $500 million over the 2020 enacted level and offset through increased lending fees.”

 “The Budget includes proposals to address the healthcare needs of rural America.  The Budget proposes to expand access to telemedicine services by offering increased flexibility to providers who serve predominantly rural or vulnerable patient populations, including IHS providers and providers participating in Medicare payment models requiring financial risk.  The Budget proposes to modify payments to rural Health Clinics to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries continue to benefit from primary care services in their communities.  To address the trend of rural hospital closures, the Budget proposes to allow critical access hospitals to voluntarily convert to rural standalone emergency hospitals and remove the requirement to maintain inpatient beds.  In addition, the Budget maintains funding for rural Health Outreach grants in HrSA.”