House Labor-HHS funding bill is shortsighted, underfunded approach to nation’s health

Date: Jul 20 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Megan Lowry, 202-777-3913

APHA says House Labor-HHS appropriations bill ‘falls far short’

Washington, D.C., July 20, 2017 — The Labor-HHS spending bill approved by the House Appropriations Committee this week represents an underfunded and shortsighted approach to public health, said the American Public Health Association. While the bill provides increases to a few programs, it cuts many, leaving the public health workforce underfunded and the nation with reduced capacity to prevent injury and disease and protect public health and safety.

"This bill is not a sound investment in American health, in fact it falls far short of what Americans need” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, executive director of APHA.

With major cuts to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention totaling $163 million and cuts to Health Resources and Services Administration totaling $397.62 million, this bill leaves essential disease prevention, vaccination, research and workforce training programs vastly underfunded. At the same time, Congress is also considering legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, including the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which provides critical resources for important public health programs to prevent childhood lead poisoning, provide immunizations and respond to public health threats and outbreaks like the Zika and Ebola viruses. Currently the fund makes up 12 percent of the budget at CDC.

Notably, the bill would entirely eliminate CDC’s climate and health program and HRSA’s family planning programs. The bill would also decrease funding for key CDC immunization and tobacco control efforts, as well as stifle federal gun violence research — continuing a 20-year trend – by failing to provide any funding for critical studies. The Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research would see its funding levels fall $24 million below FY 2017 levels. 

One notable highlight in the bill is the increase of $45 million to the CDC budget provided by the committee for public health preparedness and response, including increased funding for state and local preparedness and response activities.

Dr. Benjamin stated, “Cuts and eliminations of multiple HRSA workforce programs are particularly shortsighted given the current and expected health care workforce shortages, and the growing, aging and diversifying population which will require a robust, well trained, well distributed workforce that reflects the diversity of our nation.”

"We urge the House to restore proposed cuts and to craft bipartisan legislation that adequately funds and prioritizes public health. In addition, Congress should work in a bipartisan manner to reject efforts to repeal the prevention fund and raise the current austere budget caps to provide additional resources for important nondefense discretionary programs like public health.”

A detailed list of cuts to public health funding at CDC and HRSA in the House Labor-HHS appropriations bill, as stated in the Full Committee Report, can be found below:

Cuts to CDC would total more than $163 million below FY 2017 levels:

  • $10 million cut to National Institute of Occupation Safety and Health
  • $21 million cut to National Center for Environmental Health (including elimination of the climate and health program)
  • $10 million cut to Public Health and Scientific Services
  • $74 million cut to Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (including -$55 million for tobacco control)
  • $50 million cut to Immunization and Respiratory Diseases
  • $33.4 million cut to Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases
  • $10 million cut to CDC-wide activities

The bill would cut or eliminate the following programs at HRSA: 

  • $12 million cut to the Centers of Excellence 
  • Eliminate the Health Careers Opportunity Program
  • $4 million cut to Geriatric Programs
  • $25 million cut to Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training 
  • Eliminate the Public Health and Preventive Medicine programs
  • $18.27 million cut to the Nursing programs
  • Eliminate Family Planning
  • $2 million cut to Program Management
  • $3.5 million cut to National Hansen’s Disease Program and eliminate funding for buildings and facilities

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APHA 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 combines a 145-year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. Visit us at www.apha.org.