President Biden’s 2023 budget offers more money for healthcare, research

A new research agency would get a significant boost. Some want to see more money directed to the National Institutes of Health.

President Joe Biden is proposing increases for healthcare and medical research in his $5.8 trillion 2023 budget.

The spending plan also calls for increased investments in mental health and programs to reduce healthcare disparities among minority groups.

The White House introduced the 2023 spending plan Monday. It comes just a few weeks after the president and Congress signed off on the budget for the remaining months of the 2022 fiscal year.

While Biden’s proposals for healthcare and research drew largely positive response from advocacy groups, some said they would like to see more aid directed to the National Institutes of Health’s core programs.

Lawmakers in Congress, Republicans and Democrats, will have some of their own priorities, so the 2023 spending plan will likely look significantly different before it gets through Congress and to the president’s desk.

The Department of Health and Human Services would get $1.7 trillion in mandatory funding and $127.3 billion in discretionary budget authority.

Here are some highlights of the president’s proposed 2023 budget.

Health research

Biden won support for the creation of a new federal research agency - the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health - in the current budget. But he received less money for the agency, dubbed ARPA-H, than he initially sought. The final 2022 budget included $1 billion; Biden had wanted $6.5 billion.

In the new budget, Biden is proposing an additional $5 billion for the new research agency.

The Biden administration has said the new agency will focus on high-risk, high-reward studies of cancer and other diseases.

The National Institutes of Health, the chief source of federal funds for medical research, would get $49 billion, an increase of $4.3 billion in 2023. But nearly all of that money would be directed toward the new research agency, ARPA-H.

Some advocates, including the Association of American Medical Colleges, are calling for a bigger boost for the NIH. David J. Skorton, AAMC’s president and CEO, and Karen Fisher, AAMC’s chief public policy officer, called for more funding for the NIH.

“We urge Congress to ensure healthy increases for NIH-funded research in FY23 so that scientists at medical schools, teaching hospitals, and other labs across the country will be able to continue to make progress toward combatting daily health threats – such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and others – that are facing patients, communities, and people everywhere,” they said in a statement.

Research!America, an advocacy group, also criticized what it termed as the “grossly insufficient” funding for the NIH. The organization, which generally supported much of BIden’s proposal, said the NIH needs more money to deal with current and unknown threats.

The NIH has enjoyed strong, bipartisan support in Congress, so it’s possible lawmakers could insist on more funding for the agency.

Behavioral health

The Biden administration proposes $697 million to expand access to crisis care services for people with suicidal ideations or experiencing a behavioral health crisis. This money will fund the transition of The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline from a 10-digit number to 9-8-8 in July 2022.

The spending plan also calls for investing $51.7 billion over 10 years to improve behavioral health services. It would include $7.5 billion for a Mental Health Transformation Fund to help expand the mental health workforce and expand access to services.

Emergency response

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the White House is proposing to spend $81.7 billion over the next five years to deal with future pandemics and other biological threats. The money would be distributed across several agencies, including HHS, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Protection and the Food and Drug Administration.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would get $10.68 billion in 2023, an increase of $2.3 billion, or about 27%, over the current year. It includes mandatory funding for pandemic preparedness.

Health equity

The budget calls for spending $470 million across several agencies on programs to reduce maternal mortality, which is particularly high among Black women, Native American women and Alaska Native women, the administration notes.

The Biden administration proposes $9.3 billion for the Indian Health Service for 2023, an increase of $2.5 billion, or 37%. The administration also proposes making aid for the service’s Native American health programs as mandatory funding, so it isn’t subject to the unpredictability of discretionary spending.

The CDC’s budget includes $153 million to address the social determinants of health, the AAMC notes.

Other key programs

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality would get $376 million, an increase of $26 million, or 7%. The agency’s core mission is improving healthcare safety and quality. Research!America called the budget proposal “a welcome down payment on the funding growth this historically underfunded agency needs and merits.”

The Food and Drug Administration would get $3.7 billion, an increase of $355 million, or nearly 11% above the current year. The agency also would get $1.6 billion in mandatory funding to deal with future pandemics.