President Obama’s FY15 budget would expand key programs that promote access to care, but it also sets priorities that will generate concern in the dental education community. Of particular note, the budget proposes the elimination of funding for two programs in which many ADEA member institutions participate:
- Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) and
- Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP).
Three other programs of special interest to academic dentistry fare better under the president’s FY15 budget, with funding remaining flat:
- The Ryan White Dental Reimbursement Program - Part F at $13 million,
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Oral Health (CDC DOH) at $16 million, and
- National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) at $397 million.
The budget expands funding for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), but the discretionary portion of that budget, which funds programs of importance to academic dentistry, is slightly smaller than in the HHS budget for FY14. HHS administers Title VII of the Public Health Service Act, which strives to increase the size and diversity of the public health workforce. Funding for Title VII is set at $216 million and contains allocations for specific programs, including:
- $1 million for faculty loan repayment,
- $32 million for oral health training,
- $45 million for health professions training for diversity,
- $5 million for health workforce information and analysis, and
- $10 million to support a new Clinical Training in Interprofessional Practice program to “increase the capacity of community-based primary health care teams to deliver quality care.”
The White House highlighted new funding in the proposed budget that would extend access to care to more Americans in need of health services. Funding for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) would increase by half a billion dollars in FY15, rising from $283 million in FY14 to $810 million. This additional investment would come to almost $4 billion over six years and allow NHSC to place 15,000 health care providers in underserved areas. The budget includes a legislative proposal to transfer some Medicare funding to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for this purpose.
Community health centers also stand to benefit under the proposed budget, which would allocate $4.5 billion in new resources for the centers over the next three years.