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President George W. Bush released his 2005 budget plan in February, granting most domestic, non-security and non-defense programs minute funding increases – with less than 1 percent total growth – but several health care initiatives were supported in the budget. For example:

  • Efforts will continue to reduce chronic diseases by promoting healthy behaviors through $125 million for the STEPS to a Healthier US program. Diabetes and obesity, risk factors for neurological disease, are two of the conditions targeted.
  • To combat the spread of infectious diseases, $51 million will go to strengthening national detection, diagnosis, and response systems.
  • A $50 million effort to increase the use of information technology in health care settings will include demonstration grants for technology initiatives and support for the adoption of data standards.
  • Implementation of the Medicare reform plan will continue by adding initial wellness exams for new beneficiaries, along with screenings for diabetes and heart disease.
  • Three hundred thirty-two new and expanded health centers will provide care in rural and urban underserved areas.

AAN Federal Affairs Manager Mike Amery said that the AAN Legislative Affairs Committee (LAC) will monitor the budget as it makes its way through Congress. He noted that funding levels for health care research, estimated at 3 to 5 percent, are not where the LAC would like to see them, and that they will advocate this year for increased funds for research agencies such as the NIH and CDC. “We believe that we need to keep up with the pace of last year [with regard to funding increases],” he said.