Friday, 19 January 2018 13:59

ASM Signs on to Letter Supporting Prevention and Public Health Fund

January 18, 2018





The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Charles Schumer
Senate Minority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker of the House
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Democratic Leader
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer, Speaker Ryan, and Democratic
Leader Pelosi:

As organizations committed to improving the public’s health, we write to express our serious
concern about the most recent continuing resolution, which cut $750 million from the Prevention
and Public Health Fund (Prevention Fund) and will put Americans at greater risk for illnesses,
injuries and preventable deaths. This represents a 17 percent cut to the Prevention Fund over
several years, including an 11 percent cut in fiscal year (FY) 2019. We ask you to reject any
additional cuts to the Prevention Fund and restore this lost funding to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) by directing new resources made available by a broader budget
agreement to raise the spending caps, or from savings due to the long-term reauthorization of the
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), to the Labor, Health and Human Services,
Education, and Related agencies (LHHS) 302(b) allocation.

The Prevention Fund currently comprises more than 12 percent of CDC’s entire annual operating
budget. The majority of the programs it funds are core public health programs that existed prior
to the creation of the Prevention Fund. As a result, cuts to the Prevention Fund will translate into
funding shortfalls in programs that states have long relied upon to keep their residents healthy
and safe. Among these programs are the 317 immunization program that protects millions of
Americans, public health laboratory grants to identify risks and prevent infectious diseases, the
Preventive Health and Health Services (Prevent) Block Grant program which allows states the
flexibility to address their most pressing health concerns, cancer screenings, chronic disease
prevention and other critically important programs. The Prevention Fund represents 53 percent,
20 percent, and 100 percent of these critical programs’ budgets, respectively.

Since FY 2010, CDC’s budget authority has actually decreased by 11.4 percent (adjusted for
inflation). This cut has occurred in spite of the growing and geographically disparate burden of
largely preventable health threats such as the opioid epidemic and emerging infectious disease
outbreaks such as the Zika virus.

CHIP, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), National Health Service Corps, the Special
Diabetes Program and other important programs are critical to ensuring that Americans have
access to health care and to improving equity in health outcomes. However, cutting CDC funding
undermines the core missions of those programs, as CDC activities supported by the Prevention
Fund work in concert with primary care providers to keep Americans healthy. These are separate
and distinct sets of activities that work together to protect the health of Americans.

Programs funded through the LHHS appropriations bill, including public health, education, and
job training programs funded with non-defense discretionary dollars, have been cut dramatically
and disproportionately in recent years as Congress has worked to reduce spending. Yet experts
across the political spectrum agree these programs are not a driving factor behind our nation’s
mid- and long term deficit challenges. The recent cut to the Prevention Fund further exacerbates
these budget reductions. Instead of pitting CDC funding against other important health priorities,
Congress should significantly increase its investment in CDC to ensure that we have the
resources required to address the health challenges facing the nation.

Funding prevention not only saves lives but it saves money. A comprehensive study of
evidence-based prevention programs found that every dollar invested yields $5.60 in savings.
Further cuts to public health funding will likely cause children and families to become sicker and
our nation’s health care costs to grow even faster. Congress must begin to reverse the trend of
cutting CDC’s budget and significantly increase investments in the agency to ensure the federal,
state, and local public health professionals have the skills and resources they need to protect and
further improve the health of the American people. As Congress works toward a budget
agreement, we urge you to restore these cuts to CDC’s budget to ensure that CDC maintains its
ability to carry out its mission of saving lives and improving health.

View all signees of the letter in support of the Prevention and Public Health fund here.