The Obama Administration’s Fiscal Year 2011 Health and Human Services Budget — February 2010

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the principal Federal agency charged with protecting the health of all Americans. The President’s budget for Fiscal Year 2011 calls for $81.3 billion in discretionary spending to support programs administered by HHS. This represents an increase of $1.5 billion over the 2010 levels appropriated by Congress and approved by the President for HHS.  Discretionary spending also includes $7.5 billion for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an Agency within HHS charged with increasing access to basic health care for those who are medically underserved. This is an increase of $28.1 million above the FY 2010 level for HRSA. One of the primary goals of the HRSA budget is to improve both access to and quality of health care in rural areas, as well as increase the number of doctors, nurses, dentists and other health professionals — including psychologists — who practice in areas of the country with shortages of health professionals.

Regarding programs of importance to psychologists, the President’s budget contains funding for the Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) Program, the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) and the Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) Program.

For the second time, the President’s budget includes the GPE Program. For the FY 2011 budget, the President requested $2.9 million-level funding from the FY 2010 appropriated level. The GPE Program is the only federally funded program dedicated solely to psychology education and training. Since 2002, the program has provided $24.7 million in interdisciplinary training across 30 states to help mental and behavioral health services meet the needs of underserved communities and individuals.

In an effort to increase the number of primary health care providers, the President’s budget calls for $169 million for the NHSC; specifically, an increase of $21.79 million dedicated to recruitment. This increase will fund 49 new scholars and 1,460 new loan repayers. The increase also will add 400 NHSC clinicians to the more than 8,100 that will provide essential primary and preventative care services in health care facilities across the country. Because psychologists are eligible to apply for the loan repayment program, this funding will allow increased numbers of psychologists working in underserved areas to receive monies from the NHSC.

Continuing the President’s commitment to provide access to health care for underserved individuals and building on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the budget includes $249 million for community health centers. This is an increase of $290 million from the FY 2010 appropriated level. This funding will provide for further expansions of health center services, providing $16 million for new sites, and $25 million for substance abuse and behavioral health. The increased funding also will facilitate the integration of behavioral health into the existing health centers’ primary care system, allowing for an increased need for psychologists in these health centers. This investment will allow community health centers to provide high-quality primary care for 20 million patients in FY 2011 — three million more than were served in 2008.