All’s Well That Ends Well for NCHS Funding
Emily J. Holubowich, Senior Vice President at CRD Associates, is NAPHSIS's Washington representative and leads our advocacy efforts in the nation's capital.
For the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the outcome is as good as can be expected in the current no-growth environment. In the end, NCHS received flat funding of $160.4 million for the second straight year. It certainly could have been worse. Last year the House had proposed flat funding for the agency, while the Senate proposed an almost $5 million cut. NAPHSIS joined the Friends of NCHS in advocating for the higher of the two levels, and we are pleased to see Congress obliged!
We are also pleased the Congress accepted our recommended report language, encouraging CDC’s support of states in upgrading antiquated vital statistics collection systems and improving the quality and accuracy of vital statistics reporting. In the bill’s accompanying guidance, Congress recognized that “while most states now or will soon have operational electronic birth and death registration systems, many do not have the resources to maximize electronic death reporting or to modernize their systems to keep pace with new technology.”
With fiscal 2017 behind us, work on fiscal year 2018 now begins in earnest—and we’re bracing for a budgetary maelstrom. The President’s budget preview released in March indicated an 18 percent reduction in funding for the Department of Health and Human Services. We’ll know more about what that means for NCHS when the full budget proposal is released May 23. Congressional Republicans and Democrats alike panned the proposed draconian cuts, but sequestration returns October 1 and without another bipartisan budget deal to secure some relief more spending cuts will be on the way. We’ll be working with our vital records stakeholders over the coming weeks and months to ensure Congress continues to prioritize the National Vital Statistics System. Stay tuned!