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National MS Society Responds to President’s Proposed FY 2018 Budget

May 23, 2017

The National MS Society calls on Congress to reject U.S. President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget. The proposal includes significant cuts for medical research, health coverage and access to services ranging from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to Medicaid.

“The President’s proposed budget ignores people living with disabilities, illness, or chronic diseases like MS,” said Bari Talente, Executive Vice President of Advocacy, National MS Society. “At a time when millions of Americans are eager to realize the promise of the 21st Century Cures Act, this proposed budget moves us backwards — cutting $7.2 billion from the NIH budget and nearly 20 percent from the Center for Disease Control (CDC)’s chronic disease budget. Health coverage and services on which people with MS rely would also be drastically reduced—with more than $1 trillion cut from Medicaid and $72.4 billion from Social Security’s disability programs over the next ten years. Americans living with MS were left behind in the President’s budget proposal, “A New Foundation For American Greatness,” and we urge Congress to reject this proposal as they responsibly deliberate a budget for FY 2018.”

Affected programs include:
  • Proposed cuts to the NIH of $7.2 billion or 21% below 2017 funding levels. The magnitude of these cuts will significantly impact funding of medical research that holds the key to stopping MS in its tracks, restoring what has been lost and ending MS forever. MS funding at NIH has declined in recent years, so cuts of this level will significantly jeopardize funding for MS research across the country. 
  • The CDC would face a $1.28 billion cut and would result in the lowest CDC budget in more than 20 years. The cut would eliminate key research centers that are looking for new ways to prevent diseases more effectively. Cuts of this nature would hinder implementation of the National Neurological Conditions Surveillance System that was authorized under 21st Century Cures to track incidence and prevalence of diseases like MS. 
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s Congressional appropriation would be cut by $871 million, a 31% cut. The budget also proposes replacing that funding by doubling Industry user fees. Congress has signaled that they will not consider any increases in user fees, which leaves FDA facing a significant cut. This depth of cut would undermine the FDA’s ability to carry out its essential duties – ensuring safe and effective medical products and foods.
  • Presumes passage of the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA). Opposed by most patient, disability, provider, hospital and consumer groups, the AHCA would erode protections for people with pre-existing conditions, cause 23 million Americans to become uninsured, decimate Medicaid and reduce financial support for low-income Americans to purchase coverage. Funding for the existing law, the Affordable Care Act, would be stripped by $1.25 trillion.
  • Medicaid would be cut by $610 billion over ten years, on top of the more than $800 billion in federal money being stripped from Medicaid were AHCA to pass—resulting in more than $1.3 trillion in cuts to Medicaid over the next ten years. Like AHCA, the President’s budget proposes to change Medicaid’s financing structure to a block grant or per capita cap. The Society has long opposed block grants and per capita caps, as they are simply a cost shift to states that would lead to service and/or population cuts.
  • $74.2 billion cut from Social Security over the next ten years including $72.4 billion from Social Security’s disability programs. Cutting this amount of funding and some of the President’s proposals around Society Security disability would disrupt efforts to reduce the disability backlog, pay monthly benefits in a timely manner and determine post-entitlement issues in a timely manner.
  • The Lifespan Respite Care Program—which provides grants to states to better coordinate and deliver respite services to caregivers—would receive a 17% cut in 2018 from its 2017 funding level.
These cuts come just one month after Congress passed a funding bill for fiscal year 2017 that included $2 billion increases to the National Institutes of Health and advancements in innovations passed last December through the 21st Century Cures Act. The President’s budget is an outline of the Administration’s priorities and is non-binding on Congress. The congressional Appropriations Committees will now begin their work on the 2018 budget. The Society urges Congress to continue investing in medical research and to protect health coverage and other vital services on which people with MS rely.

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.

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