Budget Analysis By Issue: Health

The president's fiscal 2011 budget includes just over $900 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services. Most of that goes for the huge health entitlement programs, Medicare and Medicaid.

Of the programs that would be subject to the president's proposed three-year freeze on non-defense, discretionary spending, many are set for significant increases. The National Institutes of Health, for example, which enjoys bipartisan popularity, would get a $1 billion increase, to $32 billion. Another program with bipartisan support, Community Health Centers, would get a hefty $290 million boost. And the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality would see a nearly one-third boost to its budget to help fund somewhat controversial research, originally authorized in last year's stimulus bill, into what kinds of medical care actually work.

Analysis:
With the outcome of the president's health overhaul still a major question mark, the budget seems to play it safe this year, providing increases for popular programs and relatively small cuts for other programs in anticipation of a possible budget freeze. The budget also includes a six-month extension of funding to help states with their Medicaid costs. It was originally included in last year's stimulus bill.

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