Washington, D.C., April 14, 2011 — As members of Congress prepare to vote to fund the U.S. government through the end of this fiscal year, the measure they are to approve exacts painful cuts to public health programs and services, says the American Public Health Association.
“We want Congress and the public to know that this budget deal doesn’t come without tremendous sacrifice and risk,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of APHA. “Steep cuts to our core public health agencies will hamstring communities across the country in their efforts to provide basic health and prevention services.”
The reductions are expected to affect most major programs and could result in more foodborne outbreaks going undetected with more illnesses, tens of thousands fewer children receiving immunizations, fewer cancer screenings, weakened environmental health safeguards and tens of thousands of jobs lost among the public health workforce.
“These cuts further erode public health programs that have long been underfunded,” said Benjamin. “And the measure also fails to invest in our future. The long-term health consequences will far outweigh the short-term savings.”
The vote on the continuing resolution comes as the House is set to take up its budget proposal for fiscal year 2012, released last week by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, which targets public health programs for even bigger cuts.
“As difficult as the continuing resolution is, the Ryan budget is simply a non-starter,” said Benjamin.
“We recognize that these are very difficult economic times,” said Benjamin. “But the fiscal burden borne by the agencies and programs that protect public health is far too great. We instead urge Congress to develop a bipartisan plan that prioritizes public health and prevention, strengthens the Medicare and Medicaid programs and supports efforts to make comprehensive health insurance coverage available to all Americans.”