The American Public Health Association (APHA) says short-term savings from drastic cuts to critical health programs proposed by a House subcommittee will be outweighed by long-term medical and human costs.
In approving its fiscal year 2013 appropriations bill, the House Appropriations Committee’s Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee voted to significantly cut public health funding, including an 11 percent reduction in resources for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and significant cuts to the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The draft bill would also completely eliminate funding for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Title X Family Planning program. In addition, the proposal would stop implementation of much of the Affordable Care Act and rescind the Prevention and Public Health Fund, an important part of the ACA. The subcommittee also approved a number of anti-public health legislative riders that the APHA says will harm the health of all Americans and increase the cost of care.
“Public health agencies are already struggling to do more with less and provide basic health and prevention services,” said Georges Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of APHA. “This measure undercuts our efforts in communities across the country to promote health and prevent disease.”
“Particularly troubling is the continued assault on the Affordable Care Act,” said Benjamin. “Here we have a law that is working to address a number of the biggest challenges facing our health system: escalating costs, uneven quality, discriminatory insurance practices, rising numbers of uninsured and a shrinking primary care workforce. What will it take for Congress to recognize this growing crisis and begin to work together to protect the health of Americans?”
APHA urged the full committee to reject the measure in its vote expected next week and instead to support a measure that prioritizes funding for public health.