On May 23, 2017, the President released his fiscal year 2018 budget, proposing dramatic and devastating cuts to non-defense discretionary programs, in addition to massive tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. This budget sends a clear and vicious message about who and what the Administration values. This budget, if passed, will have a grave impact on many of us, including people living with and at risk for chronic diseases, like HIV and hepatitis C, LGBT communities, communities of color, and individuals and families with low incomes. Below is an outline of some of the most drastic cuts that could impact people at risk for and living with HIV and hepatitis C, which include:
- $610 billion to Medicaid over the next decade;
- 20% cut to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (which covers one in three children and adolescents) over the next two years;
- $186 million from programs at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s center on HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, sexually transmitted infections and tuberculosis prevention, which includes flat funding for viral hepatitis prevention (which is a mere $34 million in a time when hepatitis C is the leading cause of death from infectious diseases in the U.S., and over a five-year period acute hepatitis C has tripled hepatitis B has increased 20%) and a significant $149 million (19% cut) to HIV prevention;
- $59 million from the Ryan White Program by eliminating he AIDS Education & Training Centers and the Special Projects of National Significance;
- $75 million (50%) in cuts to rural health programs (of note, some recent outbreaks of hepatitis C have been identified in rural communities in Appalachia and the Midwest, including the unprecedented HIV and hepatitis C outbreak in rural Scott County, Indiana);
- Elimination of the Secretary of Health & Human Services’ Minority AIDS Initiative;
- Deep cuts to mental health services funded through the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration;
- 2% decrease in funding for the Department of Housing & Urban Development, including a $26 million cut to Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS;
- 13% decrease to the Health & Human Services Office of Civil Rights, which promotes care that does not discriminate based on gender identity, sexual orientation, or age.
- $8 billion (20%) annual cut to research at the National Institutes of Health, including a $1.031 billion (19%) to the National Cancer Institute (at a time when hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver cancer and liver cancer is one of the only major cancers on the rise), a $1.1 billion cut to National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (a quarter of its budget, which will decimate HIV research), elimination of the Fogarty International Center (which among other critical functions provides HIV training to scientists), and significant cuts to substance use, mental health, and health disparities research;
- Elimination of long-term investments in HIV vaccine and microbicides research;
- $700 million from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and $225 million from the Global Fund to Fights AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria, which together provide most of the funding for HIV prevention, treatment, and care in sub-Saharan Africa and in other parts of the world.
Tell your members of Congress to send a different message from the cruel and anti-science message sent by the President. Tell your members of Congress to defend a budget that protects the health and well-being of all, including people at risk for and living with HIV and hepatitis C. We have the tools to eliminate both epidemics — now is the time to increase our investments in these areas, not turn back the clock.
To find contact information for your two U.S. Senators, go to: https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm.
To find contact information for your U.S. Representative, go to: http://www.house.gov/representatives/.