The AAFP is urging Congress to protect the foundation of the nation's health care system by rejecting the administration's proposed budget for fiscal year 2018,(www.whitehouse.gov) which was released on March 16.
The cuts outlined in the document would hurt patients' health, threaten their safety and reduce their access to care, said AAFP President John Meigs, M.D., of Centreville, Ala., in a statement.
"If implemented, these cuts would create a domino effect of damage that ultimately will harm the health of America on both an individual and communitywide basis," Meigs said.
For example, severely reducing the CDC's budget would pose widespread danger.
"Deep cuts to its budget will decimate the CDC's ability to prevent and control outbreaks of disease, leaving all U.S. residents vulnerable to emerging, deadly infectious diseases that could easily escalate into a pandemic," Meigs said.
Similarly, cutting the FDA's budget would make it more difficult for the agency to protect people from drugs that are ineffective or even harmful.
In addition, the proposed budget would hamper the ability of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force to ensure that patients receive the most appropriate, evidence-based health services. It also would impede the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's ability to produce evidence that makes health care safer, more effective and more affordable.
And at a time when the United States is seeking ways to avert an expected shortage of 33,000 primary care physicians by 2035,(www.annfammed.org) the proposed budget would slash funding for the Health Resources and Services Administration, which operates two of the most important programs that address this challenge. The agency's Primary Care Training and Enhancement program grants authorized by Title VII, Section 747 of the Public Health Service Act strengthen primary care medical education, and scholarships and loan forgiveness programs offered by the National Health Service Corps encourage medical students to choose primary care and practice in the underserved areas where they are most needed.
Finally, cuts to the CMS budget would strain the resources of the Medicare, Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance programs that 125 million people depend on for their health care.
As legislators consider the budget proposal, the AAFP wants them to ensure that the health care system -- which not only protects the nation's health, but also makes up 17 percent of the U.S. economy -- continues to be watched over.
"Health care is, indeed, complicated," Meigs said. "The system is only as strong as the agencies and programs that undergird it."
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