Congressional stopgaps are irresponsible short-term fixes, House proposal includes dangerous cuts

Date: Feb 06 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Megan Lowry, 202-777-3913

Statement from Georges C. Benjamin, MD, executive director, American Public Health Association

Washington D.C., Feb. 6, 2018 — "The American Public Health Association urges Congress to pass a long-term funding solution to keep the government open this week without cutting billions in public health funding. Congress has created an environment of extreme financial uncertainty for the public health community by funding key programs and agencies on a month-to-month basis and repeatedly threatening a vital source of funding: the Prevention and Public Health Fund. Public health cannot create long-term solutions supported only by short-term funding measures, and funding the government with yet another continuing resolution this week would be unacceptable and irresponsible.

"The House’s spending proposal robs Peter to pay Paul. It would cut nearly $3 billion from the Prevention Fund by 2027 to extend funding for other health programs that Congress failed to reauthorize when they expired months ago. The Prevention Fund makes up 12 percent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s budget and supports key public health activities like childhood lead poisoning prevention, vaccination, smoking cessation and other programs in all 50 states. Slashing the fund will put these critical public health programs and the people they serve at risk. The proposal also fails to fund the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, jeopardizing health care services for more than 160,000 new mothers and children.

"A shutdown is a devastating blow to the federal government that must be avoided; however, Congress’s strategy of passing continuing resolutions to keep the government open at the expense of public health is also an untenable solution. The public health workforce is eager to tackle the threats ahead of us, but can only do so if Congress provides the resources to do our jobs.

“We know that every dollar invested in public health returns $5.60 in value through immunizations, disease prevention and by building stronger communities. Congress is leaving money on the table with every cut, funding delay and budget uncertainty it creates.

"We urge Congress and the administration to immediately finalize a long-term budget deal that raises spending caps for nondefense discretionary programs and fully funds all agencies for the remainder of the fiscal year, including increased funding for CDC and the Health Resources and Services Administration and reversing proposed and enacted cuts to the Prevention Fund."

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The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We are the only organization that influences federal policy, has a nearly 150-year perspective and brings together members from all fields of public health. Learn more at www.apha.org.