PHI Statement on Fully Funding Programs that Address Health Disparities in the FY 2018 LHHS Appropriations Bill
Public Policy Advocacy
STATEMENT FROM NORA CONNORS, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC POLICY AND PARTNERSHIPS
“Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee marked up their Labor Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies FY2018 Appropriations bill. PHI fully supports the $2 billion increase to NIH from FY17, the continuation of critical programs like immunization grants and certain chronic disease prevention programs, full funding of the National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network, continued funding for state grants to target the opioid abuse crisis, and the Committee’s prioritization of telehealth.
“However, we are strongly disappointed that funding for the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program was not included. REACH is the nation’s only community-based program working to tackle racial and ethnic health disparities and chronic disease risk factors that are the leading cause of morbidity and death in some of America’s most vulnerable communities. We call on members of congress to restore this vital funding in conference.
“These investments are more important than ever. Addressing health disparities helps reduce the nation’s health care costs: the Joint Center for Economic and Political Studies estimates that eliminating health disparities would reduce direct medical expenditures by nearly $230 billion. Yet health disparities continue to widen and people of color, low-income Americans and tribal communities disproportionately feel the burden of disease.
“Through the REACH program, grantees across the country—ranging from state and local health departments to universities and community based organizations—identify, develop, and disseminate effective strategies for addressing health disparities. In California’s Central Valley, PHI’s REACH grantee Cultiva La Salud has implemented physical activity opportunities for almost 80,000 Latino residents and increased access to healthy food for over 60,000 Latino residents. One local school district implemented a procurement policy that brings fresh, California-grown food to over 6,000 students. To ensure that all communities have access to health and opportunities to thrive, we must fully fund REACH and other critical programs already working to improve equitable health outcomes. These programs are critical to advancing health nationally and around the world, and as a result the proposed cuts put the public’s health in jeopardy.”