The American Public Health Association is voicing strong opposition to the budget agreement passed earlier this month by the U.S. House of Representatives. The measure would slash funding for programs across the public health continuum — from efforts that prevent disease outbreaks to those that train health workers — and repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“This measure is a nonstarter,” said Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director of APHA. “Cuts outlined in the agreement would devastate our nation’s public health and safety net system and would have a disproportionate impact on our nation’s most vulnerable citizens.”
Not only does the measure uphold harmful cuts mandated through sequestration, but it slashes spending for nondefense discretionary programs by another half a trillion dollars over the next decade.
“The cuts will weaken our ability to ensure that we are prepared and protected in the event of a disease outbreak or other health emergency,” Benjamin said. “Simply put, our federal, state and local public health agencies will not be able to do their jobs to protect the health of the American people if these drastic cuts are enacted.”
The proposal would also repeal the ACA, including elimination of the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which is funding programs across the country to fight obesity, curb tobacco use and increase access to preventive care services.
“The ACA has made major strides in expanding coverage to more than 16 million uninsured Americans, lowering health costs and improving access to preventive services and wellness programs,” Benjamin said. “The ACA is working.”
In addition, the agreement would weaken the health safety net for our most vulnerable Americans by block-granting and cutting funding for Medicaid and calling for massive cuts to programs for low-income Americans, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
“We urge the Senate to reject the budget agreement and instead work to adopt a measure that eliminates sequestration, strengthens our nation’s public health system and safeguards the health of all Americans,” Benjamin said.