President’s budget would devastate vital public health programs, says APHA

Date: Feb 13 2018

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

Proposed budget slashes public health funding, weakens U.S. ability to tackle public health challenges

Washington, D.C., February 13, 2018 — The extreme funding cuts outlined in the president’s fiscal year 2019 budget request would devastate vital public health programs. This request falls in line with the administration’s refusal, since its first day, to adequately fund and protect important health programs and the health of people living in the U.S. The request fails to build upon the progress of the Bipartisan Budget Act, which provides additional funding that could be used to bolster our nation’s public health infrastructure. If the president’s budget were enacted, it would undermine the nation’s health security and our ability to address the public health challenges in front of us. 

To the detriment of public health, the budget includes devastating cuts to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Health Resources and Services Administration funding. The proposal fails to allocate the $900 million mandatory Prevention and Public Health Fund in FY 2019, a critical source of funding for key public health programs. The proposal also slashes funding for the Medicaid and Medicare programs, and repeals and proposes to replace the Affordable Care Act, limiting access to care. These policies are strongly opposed by the public health and medical care communities.

“Programs administered by these agencies form the backbone of public health,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, executive director of APHA. “Public health agencies have already been operating on shoestring budgets for years, and more cuts will only weaken our nation’s ability to respond to existing and emerging threats to our health.” 

The budget includes a $17.9 billion cut, or 21 percent decrease from 2017 funding levels, for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This includes cuts to CDC programs that address environmental health, birth defects and occupational health and safety, among others. The public health community has serious concerns with the proposal to transfer the Strategic National Stockpile and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health out of CDC. The proposed budget also slashes important programs at HRSA that provide maternal and child health services and training programs that strengthen the health care workforce. The budget includes only $5.4 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency, a 34 percent decrease from the 2017 enacted level. These cuts are irresponsible, hampering federal agencies’ ability to complete much of their designated work.  

While it’s encouraging that the president’s budget includes some new funding for fighting the opioid crisis, these funds are only a first step, and massive cuts to other health programs will hamper any new investments’ ability to address the opioid crisis in a meaningful way.

“American life expectancy has already declined two years in a row. The administration is well aware of the health challenges our country is scrambling to meet,” added Benjamin. “The priorities outlined in this budget are dismissive of those challenges and are an intentional attempt to kick the can down the road on addressing climate change, preventing chronic disease, stopping infectious diseases including influenza and building a public health infrastructure that can last. We can pay to prevent these problems now, or we can pay tenfold to clean up their harms in the future.” 

We urge Congress to closely examine and reject this deeply flawed proposal and instead work for bipartisan solutions that adequately fund and strengthen our public health agencies, so that they can protect the public. 

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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.