The Biden Budget: The 9 Things Lab Managers Should Know

President Biden submitted his first budget to Congress. In case you don’t have the time or stomach to read the 1,000+ page document, here’s a very high-level briefing of what lab managers should know about the budget.

The Narrative

In proposing the $6 trillion budget, the President Joe Biden called on Congress to take action this year to reduce prescription drug costs and “further expand and improve health coverage.” The President supports reforms that would bring down drug prices by letting Medicare negotiate payment for certain high-cost drugs and requiring manufacturers to pay rebates when drug prices rise faster than inflation, according to the document. “These reforms would lower drug costs and save money for Medicare beneficiaries and people with job-based insurance.”

Biden also urged Congress to enact some of his other healthcare initiatives outside the context of the budget. “Evidence shows that we can reform Medicare payments to insurers and certain providers to reduce overpayments and strengthen incentives to deliver value-based care.” The document also reiterates the administration’s support for:

  • Including a public option for health insurance in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces;
  • Giving people age 60 and older the option to enroll in Medicare, with financing separate from the Medicare Trust Fund; and
  • Providing premium-free, Medicaid-like coverage through a federal public option in states that haven’t expanded Medicaid.

What the budget proposal doesn’t do is provide details of how the administration plans to make and pay for any of these changes.

The Money

Of course, the heart of the budget isn’t talk but money:

  1. $134 billion in discretionary funding for HHS, a 23 percent increase over last year;
  2. $905 billion for the Strategic National Stockpile, a $200 million increase over 2020;
  3. $292 million for the Hospital Preparedness Program, an increase of $11 million;
  4. $17 million to “improve operations and oversight” of the 340B program, $7 million more than last year;
  5. $1.3 billion toward the National Health Service Corps, diversity training programs, and behavioral health workforce development programs and $330 million to Graduate Medical Education;
  6. $6.5 billion to fund a new health research agency that would focus on cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and other diseases;
  7. $8.7 billion for the CDC, an increase of $1.6 billion over last year, which would be the agency’s biggest funding increase in nearly two decades;
  8. $10.7 billion to address the opioid epidemic, $4 billion more than what Congress approved for FY 2020; and
  9. $1.6 billion for the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant to address COVID-19’s impact on mental health.

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