APHA Outlines Public Health Agenda Ahead of Tonight’s State of the Union Address
Washington, D.C., January 23, 2007 – The American Public Health Association (APHA) today urges President Bush to make protecting the health of Americans and their communities a priority during this evening’s State of the Union address. Despite the nation’s wealth, more than 46 million individuals in the United States lack health insurance and many Americans, particularly racial and ethnic minorities, women and low-income residents, receive a lower quality of health care and experience higher rates of premature disability and death.
APHA calls on the president and Congress to support the following measures:
- Increase funding for vital public health agencies and programs. APHA calls for adequate and sustainable funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and other public health service agencies. Past budget cuts have forced these agencies to curtail their programs and function without the sufficient resources to provide basic health services, such as state-based chronic disease prevention programs. Additionally, these agencies lack the funding to adequately respond to public health emergencies, such as an influenza pandemic and natural or man-made disasters.
- Reauthorize and fully fund the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). APHA urges ample funding for SCHIP reauthorization and the prioritizing of children’s health coverage. During the past decade, SCHIP, together with Medicaid, has successfully reduced the percentage of low-income children who are uninsured and improved their health status and outcomes. But 9 million -- or 12 percent -- of the nation’s children remain uninsured, and 75 percent of the nation’s uninsured children are eligible for but are not enrolled in SCHIP and Medicaid.
- Close the health care disparities gap. APHA calls for a comprehensive approach to confront the underlying causes of disparities in health status and health care access and to bridge the gap in health insurance coverage predominantly affecting racial and ethnic groups and rural and urban populations.
- Strengthen nutrition policies in the farm bill. APHA calls for modernizing the Food Stamps Program under the Farm Bill to allow states and localities more flexibility to provide access for food stamp recipients to fresh, healthy foods. Additionally, APHA supports the creation and expansion of food systems programs to help communities develop retail food markets and urban agriculture projects in underserved communities.
“APHA asks President Bush in his address tonight and in his proposed budget to support efforts to close gaps in health coverage, strengthen our public health system and eliminate disparities in health for the people of this nation,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, APHA executive director. “We must seriously address these pressing health challenges in order to improve the lives of Americans. We look forward to working with the administration and Congress in protecting the public’s health.”