President George W. Bush acted on his promise last month to cut the federal
budget deficit in half in the next five years. He submitted a budget request
to Congress for Fiscal 2006 that includes $214 billion in cuts in domestic
discretionary (nonentitlement) programs unrelated to defense, international
affairs, and homeland security over five years.
Bush's budget also includes $138 billion in reductions over the next 10
years in mandatory programs including Medicaid (see
page 4), the food-stamp
program, and child-care assistance to low-income working
Some mental health agencies, however, are in line for small increases.
Each February the president submits an annual budget request for federal
spending for the next fiscal year, which begins in October. Congressional
committees develop a resolution to govern the appropriations process. Once the
appopriations bills are approved by the House and Senate, differences must be
reconciled in conference before final passage.
Overall discretionary spending for the Department of Health and Human
Services (HHS), which funds most public health research, services, and
treatment, would be reduced by 1 percent to $67.2 billion, according to
Nicholas Meyers, director of the APA Department of Government Relations.
Bush proposed budget increases for some HHS agencies. Compared with Fiscal
2005, the Food and Drug Administration would receive a 4 percent increase ($80
million), the Indian Health Service would receive a 2 percent increase ($72
million), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) would receive a .7
percent increase ($195 million), according to Lizbet Boroughs, an associate
director in the Department of Government Relations.
Meyers told Psychiatric News, "The president has proposed
the lowest budget increase for NIH in several years. However, funds from the
increase will be used to implement the NIH Road Map [Psychiatric
News, April 16, 2004], which includes a strong emphasis on neuroscience
Bush proposed tiny budget increases over Fiscal 2005 for the National
Institute of Mental Health: .41 percent, or $6 million; National Institute on
Drug Abuse: .33 percent, or $3.3 million; and National Institute on Alcohol
Abuse and Alcoholism: .34 percent, or $1.5 million (see table).
In contrast, the president proposed a decrease of about 1 percent ($56
million) in overall spending in Fiscal 2006 for the Substance Abuse and Mental
Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
The Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), an agency within SAMHSA, is
also slated for a budget cut, with Bush requesting a 7 percent decrease ($64
million) in Fiscal 2006 (see chart below).
"The president's cuts to CMHS are primarily confined to demonstration
and best-practice grants related to youth-violence prevention and jail
diversion. The president's budget cuts will not affect current grants,"
Nearly every CMHS program would be cut or kept at the Fiscal 2005 level in
the president's budget. The only exception is a $6 million increase for the
recently initiated State Incentive Grants for Transformation, designed to help
states develop comprehensive mental health plans.
Funding for community grant programs for jail diversion would be cut
severely, from $7 million in Fiscal 2005 to $4 million in Fiscal 2006. Bush
had proposed a similar cut to the same program in his Fiscal 2005 budget, but
Congress later restored the funding.
The president also proposed cutting the budget of a successful
youth-violence prevention program by about a third, from $94 million to $67
million, Boroughs noted.
Bush requested no increase in funding for most CMHS programs from the
current fiscal year. These programs include mental health and substance abuse
block grants, comprehensive community mental health services for children and
their families, youth suicide prevention, mental health services for the
elderly, and projects to assist people in transition from homelessness.
The president's Fiscal 2006 budget request for HHS is posted online