By Ken Alltucker
Arizona could lose $46.8 million in federal public health funding over the next five years via a cut included in the House Republican health bill, likely forcing local health departments to reduce or cut public health programs.
While debate over the GOP's American Health Care Act largely focuses on how the bill seeks to remake private-sector insurance and the Medicaid program for low-income and disabled people, a less-publicized provision would eliminate a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fund of nearly $1 billion that sustains public health programs nationwide.
The Arizona Department of Health Services received $9.3 million this fiscal year from the Prevention and Public Health Fund. The money is included in the Affordable Care Act, but the GOP plan that cleared two House committees last week would discontinue funding next fiscal year.
The fund pays for program such as providing childhood immunizations and counteracting emerging public health threats such as the Zika and Ebola viruses. It also helps pay for efforts to curb childhood lead poisoning, fight heart disease, manage diabetes, promote skin-cancer awareness and smoking cessation.
"This funding is in danger," said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. "There is no guarantee these programs would continue." Read more.