HHS Secretary Azar defends Trump budget cuts to Medicaid, NIH programs - (CNBC via NewsPoints Desk)

  • Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar has defends budget cuts proposed by President Donald Trump to Medicaid and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), CNBC reported Wednesday.

  • "It is important to note HHS had the largest discretionary budget of any nondefense department in 2018, which means that staying within the caps set by Congress has required difficult choices that I'm sure many will find quite hard to countenance," Azar stated before the House Energy and Commerce committee.

  • Under the budget, funding for Medicare and Medicaid would be slashed by $395 million 2020, while analysts estimated that various measures proposed in the budget would cut funding by $1.5 trillion over a decade.

  • Additionally, the budget additionally calls for $4.5 billion in cuts to NIH funding.

  • "We tried to prioritize certain funding at NIH," Azar noted, continuing "there's just not enough money to go around in HHS."

  • Meanwhile, lawmakers were more supportive of measures targeting drug pricing, including a plan to eliminate confidential discounts provided by companies to pharmacy benefit managers, while congressional members were less enthusiastic regarding a proposal to permit Medicare Part D exclude certain drugs from coverage in exchange for larger discounts from drugmakers.

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