American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following comment today on President Obama’s proposed fiscal year 2014 federal budget:

“While President Obama’s budget moves in the right direction by restoring the National Institutes of Health funding cut by the sequester, the administration’s proposal fails to fully account for medical research inflation and puts promising new research opportunities at risk. Over the past decade, the NIH has lost 20 percent of its purchasing power.

NIH-funded research is the best chance to find a cure for heart disease, stroke and other forms of cardiovascular disease that kill more than 800,000 Americans each year. Yet, stagnant federal support is holding back hope for the millions of Americans who suffer from these diseases.

The budget also includes an increase of $5 million for Million Hearts™, a national public-private initiative developed to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. Although we are pleased that these investments to support heart disease and stroke prevention activities were proposed for 2014, we are disappointed that the administration failed to commit additional resources from the prevention trust fund specifically targeting the 37 million adult Americans with uncontrolled high blood pressure. These people are four times more likely to die of a stroke and three times more likely to die of heart disease.  

Historically, nonprofits try to step in when government funding slows down. But the administration’s proposal to cut the charitable tax deduction could threaten the ability of these organizations to fill gaps left by cuts in prevention, research and social services programs. We urge the administration to increase, rather than reduce, incentives in the tax code that promote charitable giving – particularly when federal budgets are constrained.

The American Heart Association appreciates that this proposed budget does not undermine Medicare’s fundamental guarantee of health and financial security to millions of elderly and disabled Americans. Yet we believe more can be done to improve the health care Medicare beneficiaries receive and to further extend the program’s financial health. Moving forward, we will evaluate the savings recommended by the administration to see how they measure up to these goals, and continue to oppose any effort to shift costs to our most vulnerable beneficiaries suffering from heart disease and stroke. In the meantime, we are pleased that the budget protects Medicaid and recognizes that it is a lean and efficient program that serves as a needed safety net for millions of the most vulnerable patients.

Finally, we commend the president for recommending a tobacco tax increase. Study after study has shown that the fastest way to encourage people to quit smoking is to raise the cost of tobacco products. A federal increase will be a strong incentive for current smokers to have their last cigarette and prevent other people from ever taking up this deadly habit.”