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Public health experts unhappy with Obama’s budget proposal

Cuts come “at the expense of our nation’s health”

budgetPresident Obama’s recently released budget proposal for fiscal year 2014 fails to adequately fund key health programs, according to Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association (APHA).

Benjamin said cuts in the budget will hamper the capacity of state and local public health departments, already affected by spending cuts, to do their work including detect and respond to disease threats, confront gun violence, curb obesity rates and ensure clean air and water.

The president’s budget includes a more than $430 million cut to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s budget authority, a 7.7 percent reduction compared to fiscal year 2012. It takes the CDC’s budget authority at a lower level than in 2003. The proposal also reduces the budget authority of the Heath Resources and Services Administration by $190 million compared to fiscal year 2012.

Long-term consequences v. short-term savings

“APHA recognizes that amid today’s tough fiscal environment, it is necessary to take a balanced approach to deficit reduction, though not at the expense of our nation’s health and well-being,” said Benjamin. “Long-term health consequences such as rising chronic disease rates and increased hospitalizations will far outweigh short-term savings.”

However, Benjamin said his organization is pleased that the proposal calls for a 94-cent per pack increase in the federal cigarette tax, with a similar tax increase on other tobacco products.

Cigarettes and guns

“Taxing products is a proven way to reduce tobacco use rates and discourage people from picking up the deadly addiction, and we are glad that revenue from this measure would be dedicated to addressing important public health issues. We are also encouraged by the president’s commitment to gun violence prevention as indicated in the $30 million requested in new investments in research for CDC and National Violent Death Reporting System.”

Founded in 1872, the APHA is the oldest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world.

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