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Statement on POTUS FY19 Budget Release

February 13, 2018 – Treatment Action Group (TAG) vehemently opposes cuts in the Trump administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget proposal, which severely threaten the accelerated progress of recent years towards ending the domestic and global HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) epidemics. The latest budget proposal, released yesterday, continues a pattern by the current administration to undermine critical programming and health care necessary to public health globally and in the United States.

“With this latest budget, the Trump administration did exactly what we knew it would: use the cover of a deeply unpopular tax bill to scapegoat life-saving programs as a strategy to address the federal deficit,” said Mark Harrington, Executive Director of TAG. “No amount of savings made through these cuts will ever add-up to the billions that can be saved by funding health care, prevention and research against HIV/AIDS, TB, and HCV.”

Several alarming areas within the budget proposal include elimination of the AIDS Education and Training Centers (AETC) and the Special Projects of National Significance (SPNS) program within Ryan White; funding cuts to CDC HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STIs and TB Prevention; a loss of over $400 million in U.S. commitments to the Global Fund to Fight HIV, TB and Malaria; and a $860 million slash across the State Department, USAID, and CDC global health programs.  The budget proposal continues rhetoric on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, rolling back Medicaid expansion and allowing for states to implement barriers to care such as work requirements. Furthermore, the restructuring of three agencies under the auspices of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and caps on researcher salaries drawn from NIH grants also have been called into question by advocates.

“After failing to enact significant cuts to NIH last year, the Trump administration is clearly targeting programs that expand and implement the fruits of our research efforts,” commented Suraj Madoori, TAG’s U.S. and Global Health Policy Director. “Any efforts to create barriers to treatment access and prevention through anti-science policymaking must be met with resistance.”

Advocacy and resistance makes a critical difference. NIH funding in this year’s proposal the has largely stayed intact, whereas deep cuts proposed by the Trump administration for the FY18 budget were roundly condemned by activists and ultimately rejected by with bipartisan support from Congress. Last year, TAG led a campaign to defend the Fogarty International Center (FIC) and its invaluable contributions to global public health, ultimately succeeding in defending the center from crippling cuts.

This year, we must double down in our work to prevent cuts in public health programs and funding. TAG remains committed to leading and supporting our communities and partners on resisting any cuts to lifesaving domestic and global programs and research aimed at ending the HIV, TB and HCV epidemics.