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US Proposes Increased Funding in Mental Health Care and Medicare Cuts in 2014 Budget

President Obama recently presented his 2014 budget proposal for healthcare in the US, which asks for $3.9 billion in preparation for implementing the administration’s planned healthcare overhaul, which is scheduled to begin later this year.  One area of cuts in the proposed budget are to Medicare, and are part of a plan to reduce the program’s costs by approximately $400 billion dollars over the next ten years.  The proposed budget also calls for $130 million in funding for mental health services and additional money for research into gun violence following the Newton, Connecticut, school scooting in December and other recent violent attacks.

At a news briefing in Washington, health secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, “While we know the vast number of Americans who struggle with mental illness are not violent, recent tragedies have reminded us of the staggering toll that untreated mental illness takes on our society.”  According to the new budget proposal, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will receive more than $30 million to support a nationwide violent death surveillance system and conduct research on the causes and prevention of gun violence.

The budget also increases funding to the National Institute of Health in order to enhance research into Alzheimer’s Disease, includes proposed changes to the ways Medicare pays Physicians, and also reduces the federal subsidy for wealthier people. Also included in the proposed budget is money to help the FDA reduce the time it takes for more affordable, generic drugs to hit the market sooner so that the individuals who need them, including those with mental illness, can afford them.

Sebelius said, “Even as it invests in areas that we know are critical for our future prosperity, the budget also contributes to the president’s goal of cutting the deficit in a balanced way, That means safeguarding every dollar, cutting waste and duplication, seeking out savings wherever we can and making some very difficult choices we wouldn’t have made at other times.”

Source:  Reuters