ADA, ES Issue Alarm Over Trump Budget Cuts

Veronica Hackethal, MD

May 31, 2017

Both the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the Endocrine Society (ES) have joined other medical professional organizations in opposing President Trump's proposed cuts to federal funding for medical research and governmental agencies that support patient care and public health.

On May 23, the ADA and ES issued statements objecting to budget cuts for the fiscal year 2018, which the White House Office of Management and Budget announced earlier this week.

"The president's proposed funding cuts would stifle innovation in diabetes treatment and prevention, while also unraveling lifesaving programs and support in communities nationwide," the ADA chief scientific, medical, and mission officer William T Cefalu, MD, said in a press release.

"Progress toward a cure will be significantly impacted. Investing in proven prevention programs and diabetes research is the key to reversing the diabetes epidemic; the President's budget proposal would leave millions of Americans more vulnerable to diabetes and its deadly complications."

The cuts reach far and wide. Medicaid would suffer the deepest cut — a whopping $610 billion over 10 years — with more control turned over to the states.

The budget of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would be slashed by $1.3 billion, or about 17%. Chronic disease prevention and health promotion would experience one of the biggest cuts: $222 million.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would have its budget cut by $15.1 billion, almost 18%. Over a third of the reduction, almost $6 billion, would come from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH cuts include over 20% decreased funding to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), which provides major support for research into potential cures for diabetes.  

In its statement, the ADA voiced alarm about the "significant cuts to critical funding for diabetes research and programs." Such large cuts will undermine medical research, delay medical breakthroughs, and negatively affect almost 116 million Americans living with diabetes or at risk for it, the ADA said.

"We urge Congress to act on behalf of the American people by rejecting these dangerous proposed funding cuts and providing adequate funding for lifesaving diabetes research and programs," the statement said, "The association calls on Congress to provide $2.165 billion for NIDDK, $185 million for [the Division of Diabetes Translation] DDT, and $25 million for the National [Diabetes Prevention Program] DPP."

The ADA statement notes that the Division of Diabetes Translation "works to reduce the preventable burden of diabetes by translating research into practice through community programs across the country."

The National Diabetes Prevention Program is an evidence-based program that has been shown to decrease healthcare costs and prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes, according to information in the ADA press release.   

The ADA also objects to the Trump administration's plans to consolidate funding for CDC's diabetes programs into a pool with other chronic conditions. The ADA believes lumping chronic conditions together will fail to "meaningfully combat any of these public-health problems individually, much less collectively."

The ES issued a similar statement, saying the society "strongly opposes austere cuts of this nature." Budget cuts at the NIH and CDC would "hinder progress toward needed medical treatments and advances in public health and disease prevention," the statement said.

While the cuts have raised major concerns about research and treatment for diabetes, they also extend to other endocrine disorders.

"The proposed cuts would stymie and slow efforts to better understand and treat hundreds of debilitating hormone-related diseases and conditions such as diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, thyroid disorders, cancer, and infertility." Ruth Keri, PhD, cochair of the society's Research Affairs Core Committee, said in the ES press release.

The statement also asked Congress to raise caps for "critical" nondefense discretionary programs of the NIH and the CDC. Such programs have been capped for years.

"The society is calling for Congress to reach a bipartisan deal to provide relief from the caps in a way that provides the same relief for defense and nondefense budget priorities," the statement said, "Congress successfully reached bipartisan deals that accomplished these goals for the past 4 fiscal years, and it must achieve a compromise again for the next fiscal year to continue propelling needed medical research forward."

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