Joey Johnson, National President
American Medical Student Association
STERLING, Virginia – June 1, 2017: The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) National President, Joey Johnson has released the following statement in response to President Trump’s recently submitted budget request for fiscal year 2018, which notably contradicts many of AMSA’s organizational values and calls for deep funding cuts that would impact the health of the general public, medical trainees, and the physician workforce:
“Simply put, any budget request is a direct reflection of an administration’s priorities. Titled ‘A New Foundation for American Greatness,’ the President’s budget outline to begin in fiscal year 2018 clearly defines that foundation as a ten percent increase in military spending and $2.6 billion in border security at the expense of the long-term health and prosperity of the millions of Americans who are most vulnerable.
We acknowledge the efforts of the administration to produce a budget request that balances within ten years without reductions in funding to Social Security or Medicare. We likewise support the request of $500 million in state grants aimed at prevention, treatment, and recovery amidst the opioid epidemic, and the extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program for the next two years.
Nonetheless, the drastic reductions for several entities across the Department of Health and Human Services will further exacerbate the underpinnings of addiction and other disease processes, worsening the health of millions of Americans.
We are alarmed at the sweeping cuts to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). These would significantly hinder research initiatives to curb worldwide epidemics like tuberculosis and HIV, as well as stifle development of new interventions to prevent or reduce the burden of disease and improve lives.
Reductions of $610 million to Medicaid funding for states and conversion of the program to a block grant or per-capita system would have similarly devastating consequences. While this budget request claims support for pregnant women, children, people with disabilities, and the elderly, such drastic funding decreases would leave the millions of additional working poor, non-elderly adults covered under the Medicaid expansion without access to care.
In absence of a single payer system, AMSA supports health care reform that expands comprehensive coverage and access for all persons living in the United States, and views the expansion of Medicaid envisioned in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as an essential step toward increased access to healthcare and health insurance.
In addition to deep setbacks for research and Medicaid, we strongly feel the slim post-secondary education provisions will sink medical trainees and physicians into further insurmountable indebtedness, undoubtedly hitting underrepresented minority students in medicine the hardest. We are shocked that the budget request totally eliminates the Perkins loan program and that it likewise seeks to abolish the public service loan forgiveness program. Existing income driven repayment programs for student loans are to be extinguished, too, and replaced with a single program that calculates payments at a higher rate and payout period— 12.5 percent of income over 30 years for graduate and professional students. We feel this disregards the significant student loan burden assumed by medical trainees. Smothering the nation’s supply of physicians with educational debt to the point of eliminating pipelines into the profession will leave millions of Americans without doctors to care for them.
AMSA is similarly concerned about massive funding decreases for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). These programs address disparities in healthcare by supplementing teaching hospitals, children’s hospitals, and academic health science centers in expanding the quantity, quality, distribution, and diversity of the interprofessional workforce in primary care specialties. Most distressing is that these cuts may simultaneously disincentivize many undergraduates from pursuing careers as physicians, or only encourage pursuit of higher-earning subspecialties and abandonment of primary care in the crossfire.
This budget request disavows the vitality of medical research and innovation; it undermines health equity and medicine’s core principle of social justice; it displays marked shortsightedness in respect to the social determinants of health like poverty and hunger, access to affordable care, and attainable education. As Congress assembles in June to discuss this budget proposal, we issue a call to action to all trainees and physicians because your voice is crucial; this is no drill. Join us in organizing, mobilizing, and demanding that our senators and representatives reject these deep assaults to the foundations of a healthy community.”
AMSA is the oldest and largest independent association of physicians-in-training in the United States. Founded in 1950, AMSA is a student-governed, non-profit organization committed to representing the concerns of physicians-in-training. To learn more about AMSA, our strategic priorities, or joining the organization, please visit us online at http://www.amsa.org.