Public health investments critical in 2014 omnibus spending bill

Date: Jan 14 2014

Statement by Georges Benjamin, MD, Executive Director, American Public Health Association

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Washington, D.C. — “The omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal year 2014 released late yesterday includes important funding for public health priorities. While we fully support these increases, spending levels are not nearly adequate to meet the growing challenges we face.

“We are very pleased to see an increase in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The levels reflect a $369 million increase over the 2013 enacted levels to support our nation’s leading disease prevention and health promotion activities. Despite that bump in funding, we have a long way to go. Spending cuts over several years have dropped CDC’s budget to 2002 levels, seriously diminishing public health capacity, and even with this modest increase, CDC’s budget authority is similar to what it was 10 years ago.

“Likewise, we strongly support the restoration of 60 percent of 2013 sequestration cuts to the Health Resources and Services Administration. HRSA funding helps improve access to care for millions of Americans.

“This measure marks the first time in two years that Congress has produced a Labor-HHS Appropriations bill, which is a welcome improvement that provides agencies and grantees with greater budgetary certainty compared to operating under another continuing resolution. 

“We also applaud Congress for fully allocating available funds for the Prevention and Public Health Fund for the first time. The fund begins to move our nation’s health system focus from treating disease to preventing disease by supporting a variety of community prevention and clinical prevention programs, bolstering the public health infrastructure and workforce and expanding public health research and tracking efforts. Funds allocated by Congress support local, state and federal programs that fight obesity, curb tobacco use, improve access to preventive care services and respond to public health threats and outbreaks.

“We are pleased that Congress has allocated important funds for public health priorities for 2014. We look forward to continue working with members of Congress to strengthen this funding in the future.”

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