Washington, D.C., Feb. 8, 2013 - As President Obama lays out his agenda for the coming year and throughout his second-term in next week
s State of the Union address, the American Public Health Association urges him to press for progress on major issues that carry tremendous public healt
The following is a statement from Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director of the American Public Health Association, on four of APHAs priorities that we’re encouraging the president to pursue, namely gun violence prevention, climate change, public health funding and implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Gun violence prevention: President Obama has demonstrated his steadfast commitment to ensuring that neighborhoods across the country are safe from the scourge of gun violence, a leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. APHA applauds the administration for moving forward on a sensible, comprehensive plan that includes key public health measures to limit the deadly toll of gun violence such as clarifying the authority of CDC and other federal agencies to research gun violence prevention, supporting common-sense measures to keep firearms from falling into the wrong hands and improving mental health services to those in need. Congress and the administration must work together to ensure we develop a public health approach to reducing gun related violence, injury and death.
Climate change: Climate change is an increasing, costly and evident threat to human health and well-being from diminished air quality that leads to higher rates of asthma and other respiratory illnesses to more frequent extreme weather events gripping communities with greater impact every year. The health burden is particularly acute among vulnerable populations, including the elderly, young children, and the poor. APHA serves as a strong and vocal advocate for measures to deal with the impacts of climate change and to ensure that the Environmental Protection Agency maintains its authority under the Clean Air Act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fulfill its duties of safeguarding the public from negative health effects of climate change. APHA urges Congress and the president to ensure that CDC has the necessary resources to support to state and local public health departments in their efforts to help communities adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Public health funding: From immunizations to food safety and chronic disease prevention to medical research, public health has long felt the strain of painful cuts in federal and state funding. Long-term health and human costs of any short-term savings will undoubtedly reverberate in state and local public health departments across the country. APHA urges Congress and the administration to consider the value of prevention and public health as they work to avoid sequestration and develop deficit reduction legislation. Spending on public health is not the cause of our deficit and reducing the funding further will not bring the budget into balance. A strong, sustainable public health system is key to turning around rising chronic disease rates and related health spending. APHA urges the Congress and the president to support strong funding levels for discretionary public health and health research programs for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Health Resources and Services Administration.
Protecting and implementing the Affordable Care Act: The Affordable Care Act is working to address a number of the biggest challenges facing our nation’s health today, including escalating costs, uneven quality, discriminatory health care insurance practices, a growing uninsured population and a shrinking primary care workforce. In its three short years, the law has made enormous progress to meet our nation’s urgent health needs through the work of Community Transformation Grants and key insurance reform and quality assurance rules already implemented. Yet, key elements of the law are still under siege. Having already been cut by $6.25 billion last year, the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a mandatory and well-designated investment in the future of our nation’s health, remains vulnerable to additional attacks this year. APHA urges Congress and the president to support and defend the fund and other prevention and health promotion components of the law