The Trump administration recently unveiled its fiscal year 2018 budget proposal, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — the federal agency that essentially is the nation's primary line of defense against myriad threats to Americans' health — is slated for massive cutbacks.
According to the CDC's fiscal overview, President Trump wants to slash the agency's funding from $7.2 billion in 2017 to $6 billion in 2018, a $1.2 billion decrease of 17 percent. That degree of austerity would require eliminating or severely curtailing scores of CDC programs, including ones dealing with problems ranging from chronic disease prevention to fighting HIV/AIDS on a global level.
Health experts such as Dr. Tom Frieden, the CDC's former director, criticized the reductions. He wrote in a lengthy tweet that the Trump proposal "undermines CDC's ability to find, stop and prevent threats to Americans' health."
"When I joined the CDC in 1990, Congress had cut the tuberculosis control budget," Frieden says. "TB came roaring back, costing billions and killing Americans. Since then we've responded to West Nile, H1N1, Ebola, Zika and more. This proposal cuts virtually every program needed to stop such risks."
And while the budget does propose modest increases for four programs and initiatives, more than two dozen would be severely reduced or eliminated. These are some of the specific programs at risk, as detailed in the agency's summary.
- Common health problems: Trump would cut $222.3 million from efforts to prevent or treat various common diseases, ranging from prostate cancer and strokes to epilepsy. That would include eliminating $51 million currently spent to help ethnic communities and Native American tribes combat specific health problems that they face, and cutting $25.4 million in grants to university researchers trying to find new ways to combat chronic diseases such as obesity.
- Infectious disease: A host of programs aimed at combating diseases including HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis and tuberculosis would be cut by $186 million. In particular, CDC would be forced to reduce its involvement in HIV testing and providing support services for people living with the virus.
- Occupational safety and health: $138.5 million would be cut from research efforts intended to prevent workers from being injured or becoming ill.
- Public health preparedness: Trump would cut $136.3 million from programs that enable the government to respond to public health emergencies such as epidemics and natural disasters.
- Immunizations: The Trump budget would cut $89.5 million from federal funds provided to states to promote vaccinations. That's probably not too surprising, considering that Trump has claimed that vaccines cause autism, a belief that scientists — and the CDC itself — say is untrue.
- Global disease monitoring and control efforts: Trump would cut $76.3 million, most of it from CDC's Global HIV/AIDS program.