Senate Labor-HHS funding bill

Date: Jun 26 2015

Contact: Mandi Yohn, 202-777-2509

APHA opposes Senate Appropriations Committee’s fiscal year 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services funding bill 

Legislation would cut funding for programs and services critical to public health

Washington, D.C., June 26, 2015 — The American Public Health Association expressed deep disappointment with the fiscal year 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services funding bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday. This bill contains $3.6 billion less than the current year’s funding allocation as well as troublesome funding reductions to key programs and other provisions that put critical public health programs at risk. Though APHA strongly supports increased funding for efforts to reduce antimicrobial resistance and prescription drug abuse, these increases must not come at the expense of funding for other equally important programs.

“Funding for public health is woefully inadequate in this bill,” said APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD. “Ongoing fiscal austerity measures continue to hamstring life-saving initiatives that protect our communities from disease and disability. Congress needs to revisit the current budget austerity measures that are in place, end sequestration and develop a balanced approach that frees up the needed resources to better invest in a safer, healthier nation.”

The bill would reduce funding for important preventative health and family planning services provided by the Title X family planning program by $29 million. It would cut funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by $245 million, targeting reductions to important programs including eliminating funding for the agency’s Climate and Health Program, which is helping communities prepare for and adapt to the health impacts associated with climate change, and slashing in half funding for the Environmental Public Health Tracking Network, which is helping to improve the understanding of how chemical exposures affect the public's health. The bill also eliminates CDC-funded community prevention activities to reduce tobacco use, improve nutrition, increase physical activity and reduce racial and ethnic health disparities. Funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Head Start would also be reduced.

Additionally, not only does the bill eliminate all funding related to the Affordable Care Act, it also includes a policy rider that would block HHS from spending any of the allocated funding to support state-based marketplaces.

“Millions of Americans depend on the health care services these programs provide. Cutting their funding severely limits this access to care,” said Benjamin. “Congress must strive toward crafting policy that protects vital public health services, prevents disease, ensures access to quality, affordable care and eliminates health disparities.”

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