10 healthcare leaders react to Obama's budget

Ten healthcare leaders weigh in on President Barack Obama's proposed budget for fiscal year 2016, which includes about $400 billion in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and other health programs over the next 10 years.

Joe Baker. President of the Medicare Rights Center

"We strongly support proposals to allow the federal government to negotiate prices for breakthrough medicines, to restore Medicare's ability to benefit from the same prescription drug discounts that Medicaid receives, and to accelerate closure of the Part D prescription drug coverage gap (or doughnut hole). These policies represent sensible savings solutions that do no harm to people with Medicare.

"We remain deeply concerned by proposals that would shift the burden of higher healthcare costs to low-income and middle class beneficiaries, such as policies to further means test Medicare premiums, add a home health copayment, increase the Medicare Part B deductible, tax supplemental Medigap plans and hike brand name drug copayments for low-income beneficiaries."

Georges Benjamin, MD. Executive Director of the American Public Health Association

"We question the wisdom of the cuts to the 317 vaccine programs and believe they are premature. While there may indeed be savings from implementation of the Affordable Care Act, state resistance to coverage expansions may prove to be a problem. Additionally, the loss of funding that helps ensure that people get their shots would harm our health system's ability to respond to a host of reemerging infectious diseases like measles and pertussis."

Sylvia Burwell. Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, quoted by The Hill

"Taken together, the president's budget request for HHS makes investments that impact millions of Americans for the better — investments that are good for the health of our families, the American middle class and our nation's economy."

John J. Castellani. President and CEO of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America

"While we support collaborative public and private efforts to advance biomedical research, the president's budget includes harmful and misguided proposals that could undermine seniors' access to care in the successful Medicare Parts D and B programs and would hinder the development of new, life-saving medicines for patients."

Christopher Hansen. President of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

"The proposed funding cuts for important cancer control programs at the CDC are short-sighted. Protections in the Affordable Care Act are improving access to care for many cancer patients and survivors, but screening programs such as the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program — which the president's budget would cut by more than 20 percent — remain essential gateways to lifesaving care for millions of people nationwide, especially those in states that have not accepted federal dollars to increase access to Medicaid coverage."

Darrell G. Kirch, MD. President and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges

"America's medical schools and teaching hospitals appreciate the president's proposal to increase medical research funding for the National Institutes of Health by nearly $1 billion and by $33 million for the Department of Veterans Affairs research programs. This, along with the new focus on important advances such as precision medicine, is a welcome beginning to ensuring that medical research remains a national priority.

"While we are pleased that the administration recognizes the need to invest in the next generation of physicians through the National Health Service Corps and other new workforce programs, these proposals would not make up for the harm done by cuts to teaching hospitals that could ultimately force institutions to reduce the number of residency positions and cut other vital services. In addition, the administration's proposal to curtail student loan repayment and education tax incentives would disproportionately hurt graduate and professional student borrowers."

Nancy LeaMond. Executive Vice President of AARP

"We have concerns about certain proposals that could shift costs on to older Americans, such as higher premiums, deductibles and copays for Medicare beneficiaries.

"We appreciate the president's proposals to lower the cost of prescription drugs, promote better care, reward improved outcomes and make healthcare programs more efficient and less wasteful. AARP supports plans to hold down high healthcare costs overall, including costs in Medicare."

Margaret A. Murray. CEO of the Association of Community Affiliated Plans

"The president's budget takes a number of concrete steps aimed at shoring up the social safety net. Most notable among them is the provision in which states would have the option to maintain Medicaid coverage for adults by providing one year of continuous eligibility.

"Right now, the average adult enrolled in the Medicaid program only stays on the program for about eight and a half months of the year. In many cases, they are not leaving the program owing to rising incomes but because of missing paperwork that has little to do with their underlying eligibility. The 'churn' that results leads to worse health outcomes, lower productivity and an even more daunting climb for those seeking to move up the economic ladder."

Bruce Siegel, MD. President and CEO of America's Essential Hospitals

"America's Essential Hospitals welcomes administration proposals to strengthen healthcare and improve health, including by ending sequestration, extending the Children's Health Insurance Program and fighting infectious disease. But we strongly oppose provisions in the president's plan that would make damaging cuts to hospitals, which would come on top of more than $120 billion in reductions since 2010.

"Essential hospitals, which already operate at a loss on average, cannot withstand more reductions in federal spending. These proposed cuts would jeopardize access to care for low-income patients, as well as trauma care and other vital services to entire communities. Particularly hard on our hospitals would be proposals to extend for another year cuts to Medicaid disproportionate share hospital payments and to enforce site-neutral payment policies and reduce bad debt payments. And the budget plan's more than $16 billion in cuts to graduate medical education payments threaten not only our hospital's extensive teaching role, but the nation's supply of qualified health professionals."

Rich Umbdenstock. President and CEO of the American Hospital Association

"The cuts to hospital care are bad medicine for our nation's seniors and other vulnerable patients. Hospitals are implementing enormous changes while they continue to improve the quality of care, but the administration today proposes further cuts to hospital care. These reductions are short-sighted at a time when our nation's healthcare infrastructure needs to be strengthened."

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