By Alicia Ault
WebMD Health News
Feb. 3, 2015 -- In the budget submitted to Congress on Feb. 2, President Barack Obama is seeking almost $84 billion for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in fiscal 2016. That's about a $5 billion increase from the previous year.
The funding would cover items including more resources to combat prescription drug misuse and a huge program to take on antibiotic resistance. If antibiotics are used too much, the bacteria that cause infections can change and no longer be vulnerable to these medicines.
The White House had already announced a $1.2 billion program to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria on Jan. 27. Details are included in the budget request, which doubles the prior year's funding and seeks to improve antibiotic responsibility among doctors and hospitals, strengthen antibiotic resistance watchfulness and reporting, and drive research into new antibiotics.
Some $100 million out of the $1.2 billion program would go to the National Institutes of Health to set up a clinical trials network to quickly test new treatments, said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD.
Overall, the president is seeking $31.3 billion for NIH, which is a $1 billion increase from the fiscal year 2015 (FY15) enacted budget. "This is what this initiative needs to see the full opportunity realized," Collins said.
The FDA will receive $47 million of the $1.2 billion for evaluating new treatments and trying to remove human antibiotics from agricultural use, said FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg, MD, at a Feb. 2 briefing with reporters.
The FDA's overall budget request is for $4.9 billion, which is a 9% increase over the FY15 appropriated budget.
The FY16 budget also includes $215 million for the Precision Medicine initiative, which Obama detailed on January 30.
The $4 trillion overall budget request also seeks to extend the Children's Health Insurance Program, which ends this year. The 4-year extension would be funded through an increase in tobacco taxes.
The administration is also asking Congress to give Medicare the authority to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Obama is also seeking to end the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration.
A $99 million budget request aims to reduce prescription opioid and heroin abuse, dependence, and overdose. The funds would go in part to the CDC, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. The money would also fund research on medications to treat opioid dependence.
Also, "the administration is deeply concerned with the rapidly growing prices of specialty and brand name drugs," according to a budget summary issued by the White House. The budget lays out a proposal to let the HHS secretary negotiate drug prices for certain medications. But that would require new legal authority.
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