According to a story from medscape.com, the 2018 budget recently signed by the president is going to feature some spending increases for health-related services. These changes have the potential to greatly impact rare disease patients across the country, and hopefully in a positive way.
In many prior budgetary proposals, the White House has consistently called for cuts to many programs, including health related services and agencies. Although president Trump has officially signed the bill, many of the cuts that the executive branch was originally calling for have not been included. In the new budget, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is slated to receive a $10 billion increase.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology was another agency that had been under the gun for major cuts, but will instead receive a budget of $60 million. Overall, many of the most prominent health related agencies, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Institutes of Health, will receive funding boosts under the new budget. These agencies are vital in assisting rare disease research, as well as approving the public use of new medicines and treatments that are developed for rare disease.
Perhaps some of the most important initiatives to see increased funding involves rare disease and medical research, which has helped to lead to new discoveries and treatments for rare diseases. Brain health research has received a $140 million boost; regenerative medicine research has received an $8 million increase. The federal budget also includes $17 million increase for researching antibiotic resistant bacteria and $12.6 million has been allocated to research rare childhood cancer.
It is worth noting, however, that the budget does not include funding for the Affordable Care Act. In addition, funding to help address the rapidly worsening opioid crisis was increased by $2.55 billion. However, this is still far below the $10 billion per year that many health officials have declared would be necessary in order to fully resolve the problem.
For the most part, the increases in health spending should be considered a good sign overall for rare disease patients. Hopefully, federal agencies and programs will be able to maximize their effectiveness.