Spending bill would cut HHS spending by $633 million, slash healthcare training grants

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The House of Representatives this week is expected to consider a fiscal year 2006 spending bill that would provide the Department of Health and Human Services with a discretionary spending budget of $63 billion, a decrease of $633 million over the previous year's budget.

The House Appropriations Committee last week approved the bill. It would also provide $459 billion in entitlement spending for the departments of Health and Human Services, Education and Labor. Medicaid and Medicare programs would take up most of the entitlement spending.

The bill under funds key programs, according to Rep. David R. Obey (D-WI). It would cut training grants for healthcare professionals by $252 million, or 84%, eliminating grants to 47 geriatric education centers, area health education centers and students, he said. Funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fell to $6.1 billion, which is $291.8 million below FY 2005 funding levels.

Healthcare appropriators had to find nearly $1 billion needed to pay for administrative and process costs for implementing the new Medicare drug program, which takes effect this January, according to Rep. Ralph Regula (R-OH), chairman of the Labor, Health and Human Services subcommittee.