From slowing HIV treatment access, to an immediate $1.2 billion cut in biomedical research funding, to eliminating a program providing income for older Americans, Trump proposal to slash domestic and overseas aid spending this year is deemed unlikely to be accepted, but further highlights administration priorities
The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief would “begin slowing the rate” of access to life-saving, transmission-preventing antiretroviral treatment for people living with HIV this year, to absorb a $242 million funding cut.
The National Institutes of Health would cut back on research now, with $1.2 billion less to spend this year, while waiting to see its funding cut by a fifth in 2018.
And neglected tropical diseases would be targeted for further neglect, along with children at heightened risk for harm and disease, and efforts to fight tuberculosis, polio and malnutrition, all singled out for specified funding cuts to global health programs at USAID adding up to $90 million.
These are some of the ways the Trump administration envisions saving $18 billion it deems to have been superfluously committed to wasteful endeavors in fiscal year 2017.
While Senate and House appropriators who received the proposal Friday have indicated they will not accept its recommendations, the document, subsequently obtained by Politico and other news outlets, highlights consistent and contentious administration priorities. Like the administration’s “America First” budget outline for fiscal year 2018, released a little more than a week earlier, the proposal sweeps across science, human service, foreign aid, and health programs at home and abroad, targeting agencies and efforts already targeted for major cuts the following year. The proposal to cut funding to PEPFAR now also adds ominous clarity to the administration’s promise in its “America First” outline for FY 2018 to preserve “sufficient resources to maintain current commitments and all current patient levels on HIV/AIDS treatment” under the program.
In addition to the recommendation to immediately “slow” PEPFAR’s antiretroviral treatment rollout in low-resource, high HIV incidence countries, the proposal also targets the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Global HIV/AIDS Program, which provides support for PEPFAR activities, for a $50 million cut. At home, it proposes cutting $50 million from domestic HIV programs, saying that would “accelerate reductions proposed in FY 2018.” Proposed domestic cuts also include a $49 million cut to Public Health Preparedness and Response grants provided to state, territory and local efforts to establish capacities to confront public health threats.
Overseas, the proposal takes aim at State Department/USAID global health security programs for a loss of $72 million in funds, to be replaced by redirecting remaining Ebola emergency funds.
The Infectious Diseases Society of America, which produces this blog, responded to the proposal with a statement Monday expressing concern about the impacts of funding cuts to global and domestic public health and research efforts, adding: “As we’ve seen with recent outbreaks of Ebola and Zika, addressing infectious diseases abroad is an essential component of protecting the U.S., and Congress should not accept these proposed reductions.”
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Ca), released a statement opposing the cuts and calling the consequences of the proposed cuts to PEPFAR a “humanitarian catastrophe.”
Other cuts included in the proposal are:
- Taking $62 million from currently allotted funding for USAID family planning and reproductive health programs;
- Eliminating a domestic program that secures minimum wage community service jobs for unemployed older adults who need additional income because, at $6,500 per participant, it “fails to meet the goal of fostering economic self-sufficiency;”
- Halving the funding for a domestic teen pregnancy program using proven interventions with the recommendation that state and local entities pick up the slack using methods the program has demonstrated to be effective.