Washington, D.C., February 5, 2007 – The Bush administration’s proposed fiscal year 2008 budget imperils the health of millions of Americans with substantial cuts to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other invaluable disease prevention initiatives and successful health insurance programs, the American Public Health Association (APHA) said today.
The administration’s proposed $2.9 trillion budget calls for approximately $26 billion in debilitating cuts over five years to Medicaid, which provides a lifeline for millions of Americans who cannot afford basic medical services, as well as $66 billion in Medicare cuts. In addition, the budget calls for reauthorizing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) over five years but fails to provide the funding necessary to cover all of the children currently enrolled in the program, many from underserved communities. This proposal would ensure that more children will lack health insurance at a time when these successful programs, if fully funded, could cover three out of every four uninsured children, APHA said.
“Once again, this administration has verbally emphasized the importance of protecting our nation’s citizens, but, ironically, has not followed through with the fiscal support needed to make that a reality,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, APHA executive director. “While controlling federal spending is critical, it is also imperative that our nation’s government do whatever it can to protect the public’s health. Short-sighted and short-term savings not based in science will lead to greater health and medical expenditures in the long term.
“The budget would provide billions of dollars to the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security theoretically to protect Americans,” Benjamin said, “yet this same budget calls for massive funding cuts in proven health protection programs, and, in some cases, eliminates programs entirely. Additional funding reductions will derail the progress we’ve made in protecting people from chronic diseases and related illnesses, and will increase the number of uninsured Americans.”
The proposed budget includes devastating cuts to the budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including the elimination of the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant, which enables states to fund critical public health activities, such as preventive cancer screenings and school-based fluoridation programs. The budget also requests a $1.1 billion drop in funding for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), including a $143 million cut to rural health programs.
While APHA opposes many of the budget’s proposed cuts, the Association also identified positive developments in the president’s budget. Among the proposals, APHA applauds the following:
- An additional $1.2 billion to improve the nation’s preparedness for an influenza pandemic, including $870 million to support the development of a pandemic vaccine to keep the president’s commitment to pandemic flu preparedness;
- $2.2 billion in funding for Ryan White HIV/AIDS activities; and
- $4.1 billion to finance health services for American Indians and Alaska Natives through the Indian Health Service.
APHA calls on Congress to move to protect the health of Americans and to support the measures necessary to guarantee that all Americans have access to primary and preventive medical services that will improve the quality of their lives. APHA’s top priorities include improving access to care, rebuilding the public health infrastructure and eliminating health disparities.