APHA: Congress is putting critical health programs at risk
Congress’ bid to cut billions from public health funding is raising the ire of the American Public Health Association (APHA), which is accusing the House of robbing “Peter to pay Paul” in its latest spending proposal.
The Prevention and Public Health Fund – which makes up 12 percent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s budget -- would lose nearly $3 billion under the latest budget proposal by the House. The Fund supports key public health activities like childhood lead poisoning prevention, vaccination, smoking cessation and other programs in all 50 states.
“Slashing the fund will put these critical public health programs and the people they serve at risk,” said APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD. The proposal also fails to fund the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, jeopardizing health care services for more than 160,000 new mothers and children.
Georges accused Congress of creating “an environment of extreme financial uncertainty” for the public health community by funding key programs and agencies on a month-to-month basis and by repeatedly threatening to slash the Prevention and Public Health Fund.
Georges said short-term funding measures contained in continuing resolutions prevents public health from creating long-term solutions to crucial problems.
"A shutdown is a devastating blow to the federal government that must be avoided; however, Congress’s strategy of passing continuing resolutions to keep the government open at the expense of public health is also an untenable solution. The public health workforce is eager to tackle the threats ahead of us, but can only do so if Congress provides the resources to do our jobs.
Georges said that every dollar invested in public health returns $5.60 in value through immunizations, disease prevention and by building stronger communities.
“Congress is leaving money on the table with every cut, funding delay and budget uncertainty it creates.”
He urged Congress to finalize a long-term budget deal that that would:
- Raise spending caps for nondefense discretionary programs
- fully funds all agencies for the remainder of the fiscal year, including increased funding for CDC and the Health Resources and Services Administration and
- reverse proposed and enacted cuts to the Prevention Fund