Washington, D.C., Sept. 20, 2013 — APHA stands strongly against the continuing resolution voted on today by the U.S. House of Representatives, with vital health reform rules just days away from taking effect.
The proposed legislation would harm Americans in multiple ways. First, the resolution would continue to fund the federal government at fiscal year 2013 post-sequestration levels, and also fails to replace sequestration with a balanced deficit reduction plan that ends the senseless cuts to nondefense discretionary programs, including public health. In addition, the continuing resolution would completely defund the Affordable Care Act, the landmark law that will provide 25 million uninsured Americans with affordable and comprehensive health insurance coverage.
Forty-four thousand people die prematurely because they lack health insurance.
“Already only 3 percent of our health care dollars go toward prevention, while 75 percent go toward treating preventable diseases,” said Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director of the American Public Health Association. “We simply can’t afford to maintain the devastating cuts to public health and other critical nondefense discretionary programs under sequestration.”
The House included the ACA in its budget proposal, which temporarily maintains sequestration — the automatic spending cuts over the next decade that have already cut more than $80 billion from government funding in 2013 alone, including critical public health programs.
Public health has benefited tremendously since the ACA’s passing in 2010. The law has already provided: critical mandatory funding for prevention and wellness activities in our communities through the Prevention and Public Health Fund, 71 million Americans with access to preventive health care services, more than 34 million seniors with free preventive services through Medicare and more than 3 million young adults up to age 26 with the ability to stay on their parents' health insurance plans. Additionally, nearly 18 million children with pre-existing conditions were protected from insurance coverage denials.
Despite the House proposal the Health Insurance Marketplace will open on Oct. 1, allowing Americans in every state to lower their health insurance costs and improve access to care by enrolling in person, by phone or online.
“This is the 42nd time we’ve had to protect the Affordable Care Act, but health reform is moving forward,” Benjamin said. “However, we will not improve the health of all Americans until Congress allows the full implementation of the ACA and ends the cuts to public health funding by finally putting an end to sequestration.
“We urge the Senate to improve the bill, protect vital public health programs and reject the defunding of the ACA,” Benjamin said.