2017 Labor-HHS bill incomplete but important start

Date: Jun 10 2016

APHA calls Senate Appropriations Committee’s fiscal year 2017 Labor-HHS funding bill 'incomplete but important start'

Contact: Daniel Greenberg, 202-777-3913

Washington, D.C., June 10, 2016 — The American Public Health Association called fiscal year 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services funding bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday a necessary step forward in the process, but with positive elements tempered by numerous disappointing cuts to core public health agencies.

Specifically, the bill would reduce funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by $118 million, the Health Resources and Services Administration by nearly $35 million and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality by $10 million. Notably, it would eliminate the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health program and cut $30 million from both CDC heart disease and diabetes programs. Additionally, the bill continues to include language that would stifle federal gun violence research — continuing a 20-year trend – and fails to provide any additional funding for this critical research.

"We can’t expect to slow the spread of Zika, reduce health disparities or curb chronic disease when we continue to take money away from our nation’s leading prevention and health promotion agencies," said APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD. "Simply put, we need to increase — not decrease — investments in public health. The clock is ticking and lives are at stake."

The bill is not without upsides, according to APHA, most notably that the bill does not include any new, harmful policy riders. Additionally, the bill includes increases to address antibiotic resistance and opioid abuse. However, more funding is still needed to get ahead of the opioid crisis.

"It's encouraging to see a bipartisan Labor-HHS spending bill pass the committee," Benjamin said. "However this is not enough. We need Congress to restore the funding cuts to CDC, HRSA and AHRQ and further boost funding.

"We also need Congress working together to raise caps on nondefense discretionary programs. This is of utmost importance, because it empowers us to both prevent public health crises before they start and create a healthier, stronger nation."

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Editor's note: This version has been updated to correctly read "nondefense discretionary programs."

The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We strengthen the public health profession. We speak out for public health issues and policies backed by science. We are the only organization that influences federal policy, has a 140-plus year perspective and brings together members from all fields of public health. Visit www.apha.org.