Mar 29, 2022 - Health

Biden's health budget is short on specifics

Illustration of Joe Biden holding a giant dollar sign.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden's fiscal 2023 budget blueprint is light on specifics for key items on his health care agenda, but makes major spending commitments on mental health and preparing for future crises.

Why it matters: The budget released Monday amounts to little more than a wish list to Congress but offers clues about what Biden is prioritizing.

The big picture: HHS would get $127.3 billion in discretionary spending under the plan — an almost 27% boost.

Go deeper: The plan calls for $81.7 billion in mandatory spending over five years for COVID and future pandemics — including vaccines, therapeutics, expanded lab capacity and improved data systems.

  • The budget also envisions spending $51.7 billion over a decade on mental health, taking steps like eliminating Medicare's 190-day limit on psychiatric stays.
  • It would shift all Medicare coverage of vaccines into Part B.
  • It includes $5 billion for Biden's Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, ARPA-H, the new biomedical research agency within NIH.

What’s missing: The plan endorses key Biden agenda items like bringing down drug prices without providing details about how, and lacks details on how to expand coverage to the uninsured or lower premiums.

  • "Specifics for Biden's top healthcare priorities are notably absent (similar to last year)," Michael Newshel of Evercore ISI wrote in a note.
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