FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 20, 2017                                      CONTACTLiz Voyles, liz@brassrc.com, 202-297-9641

Big Cities Health Coalition Opposes Latest Version of Affordable Care Act Repeal, Graham-Cassidy Proposal Could be “Devastating”

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Big Cities Health Coalition wrote to the U.S. Senate Leadership this week to voice opposition to the latest Congressional effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, saying the Graham-Cassidy proposal could be devastating to the public’s health.

This bill, like those before it, would defund the Prevention and Public Health Fund, an integral source of support for local health departments all over the country. The Fund, which comprises 12 percent of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) budget, supports efforts such as childhood immunizations, lead poisoning prevention, and lab capacity to track and prevent infectious disease outbreaks. Additionally, through a new state block grant program, the Graham-Cassidy proposal will likely also mean a loss of Medicaid coverage for millions of Americans across the country, as well as a rollback of key essential benefits and lifetime cap provisions that states would have the authority to amend.

The Coalition is a forum for the leaders of America’s largest metropolitan health departments to exchange strategies and jointly address issues to promote and protect the health and safety of their residents. Collectively, BCHC member jurisdictions directly impact more than 54 million people, or one in six Americans.

The full text of the letter is below.

September 18, 2017

Dear Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer:

The Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC) opposes the current version of the proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act being circulated by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA). The long-standing public health programs that are currently in jeopardy due to elimination of the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) in this proposal would be devastating for our 28 large, urban health departments – and to the nation as a whole.

BCHC is a forum for the leaders of America’s largest metropolitan health departments to exchange strategies and jointly address issues to promote and protect the health and safety of their residents. Collectively, BCHC member jurisdictions directly impact more than 54 million people, or one in six Americans.

Among the programs at risk at the CDC are the 317 Immunization Program, Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity Grants, the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, and a host of chronic disease programs. The PPHF provides vital resources to governmental public health at all levels, and its elimination will further erode our fragile health system.

Eliminating public health programs that are now funded by the ACA would seriously undermine the ability of cities and counties to protect and promote health. The loss of hundreds of millions of dollars would hamper efforts to respond to food borne illness outbreaks, prevent emerging infectious diseases like Ebola and Zika, and respond to natural disasters like Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

Further, we are also concerned that the Graham-Cassidy proposal would block grant many of the current ACA protections, which provide access to primary and emergency care to millions of Americans. Erosion of the essential benefits package would jeopardize access to primary prevention services, including immunizations, mammograms, and other health screening tests.

Our nation needs a strong public health system with the capacity to promote health, prevent illness, and treat disease. Our members urge you to sustain current investments in public health and prevention by rejecting the Graham-Cassidy proposal.

Sincerely,

Chrissie Juliano, MPP

Director, Big Cities Health Coalition

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The Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC) is a forum for the leaders of America’s largest metropolitan health departments to exchange strategies and jointly address issues to promote and protect the health and safety of their residents. Collectively, BCHC member jurisdictions directly impact more than 54 million people, or one in six Americans. The Big Cities Health Coalition is an independent project of the National Association of City and County Health Officials (NACCHO). For more information, please visit http://www.bigcitieshealth.org/.