PHI Disappointed in House Cuts to Public Health Infrastructure
July 07, 2016
STATEMENT FROM Nora Connors, Deputy Director Of Public Policy and Partnerships
The Public Health Institute expresses our disappointment with the FY 2017 House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill that passed the Subcommittee by voice vote on July 7th. While there are some positives, such as increased NIH funding, the bill makes substantial cuts to significant programs needed to improve the public’s health.
The attack on family planning services and teen pregnancy prevention, including cutting Title X family planning funds, $125 million of which would have been designated for Zika, is an attack on women’s health and choice. We are also concerned with reductions to the CDC ‘s National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network Program and the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) Program, particularly when HHS is funded at a $2.6 billion increase above the FY2016 enacted level and CDC is funded at $650 million above FY2016.
In California, the Environmental Public Health Tracking Program serves as an early-warning system that allows policy makers and public health officials to make critical decisions about where to target environmental public health resources and interventions. Their data helped keep cooling centers open during a Northern California heat wave, saving the lives of vulnerable communities and seniors. Census-tract data analysis helped identify four new breast cancer hot spots across the state. The slated reduction in funding would devastate the national infrastructure for environmental health tracking that the CDC has spent the last decade building. It would force the elimination of states from the tracking network, and undermine the health infrastructure that the American public counts on for surveillance of environmental health hazards.
Across the country, the burden of disease is disproportionately felt by racial and ethnic groups, low-income Americans, and tribal communities. The REACH program seeks to eliminate barriers to health among racial and ethnic communities through community-based approaches and strategies. Without continued funding, we’ll lose valuable ground in tackling these disparities and current community based organization funding will be discontinued, halting critical programs.
As our halting and delayed response to the Zika crisis shows, public health funding is a critical component of the health—and security—of our nation. We need full funding of efforts to prevent, plan and prepare for public health emergencies and to address current health needs. We cannot afford to cut corners when it comes to the health of the American people.