Public health experts are warning that the funding cuts outlined in President Trump’s fiscal year 2020 budget request would weaken the nation’s ability to tackle health problems.

“In a time where life expectancy is falling, our leadership should be investing in better health, not cutting federal health budgets,” said Georges Benjamin, MD, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association (APHA).

The budget proposal includes:

  • a 31 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency
  • a 12 percent cut to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • more than $750 million in cuts to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention programs and
  • a nearly $1 billion cut to Health Resources and Services Administration programs

The APHA said the budget proposal fails to support public health or build upon congressional bipartisan progress in public health investment.

HIV initiative lauded

One thing the APHA is happy about: the administration’s call to action to eliminate the transmission of HIV in the U.S. in 10 years, and the allocation of $291 million to fund this effort. Benjamin said his group welcomes the initiative to slow the HIV/AIDS epidemic, but that funding for the effort should not come at the expense of other public health programs.

The APHA wants the president to instead prioritize a deal with Congress that would raise budget caps, avoiding a devastating 12 percent cut to nondefense discretionary spending and wants any budget deal enacted by Congress to provide parity between defense and nondefense spending.

Government leadership needed

“This budget, put simply, kicks the can of worsening American health down the road. It’s possible for us to improve public health by increasing our investment in immunizations, preventing chronic disease, reducing injuries, protecting the public from environmental health threats and improving access to other critical health services. We have an incredibly dedicated public health workforce that is ready to act. But we need investment from our government’s leadership to make that happen, and that is certainly missing from this budget,” added Benjamin.

The APHA says that in order to protect the public, Congress should reject the proposal, and to instead work for bipartisan solutions that adequately fund and strengthen public health agencies, including HRSA and CDC.