President Trump’s new proposed blueprint decreases the annual budget for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) by $15.1 billion, or 17.9%. The gutting of the department will lead to major ramifications for years to come. Concerning changes within the budget are the $5.8 billion decrease for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the proposed consolidation of the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) with the NIH, and a $403m decrease in health profession training programs.
The direct reduction for the NIH is worrisome for most Americans, as the institute is responsible for research strategies and applications for improving health. Moreover, the NIH is responsible for utilising resources across the US to prevent disease. The long-term effects of studies being jeopardized will be felt not only by Americans but worldwide, as the scientific community relies heavily on co-operation to advance new protocols.
In addition, the proposed merging of the AHRQ with the NIH will create a continuous strain on the system, affecting the quality of efforts made by both agencies for the American people. The AHRQ rectifies patient safety issues within the healthcare system. The agency prevents over one million errors annually, which include medical errors, patient safety hazards, and quality gaps within the healthcare system. The consolidation of the two groups will lead to decreased effectiveness in their specialised areas.
The coup de grace comes with the cutback of $403m in health profession training programs. The current healthcare system struggles to provide adequate care for Americans; reduced training creates an environment leading to a drop in the quality of care. As the training wanes for health professionals it will lead to increased errors in patient safety; meanwhile, the AHRQ, with its cutbacks, will be less able to prevent errors, leading to loss of life.
The budget cut for NIH, AHRQ consolidation, and reduced training for health professionals are all variables in a concoction that will reduce the quality of healthcare patients receive. The cuts also diminish innovation and stifle important research endeavours, which will end up putting Americans last.