By Quinn Libson,
MARCH 8, 2017
State and local public health departments alone stand to lose as much as $3 billion over the next five years.
WASHINGTON — Amid discussions surrounding the new health care proposal introduced by U.S. House Republicans this week, a lot of attention has been paid to the future of Medicaid, the Planned Parenthood funding freeze, and the implications of eliminating the individual mandate. But there’s one subtler—and no less crucial—change that will impact the entire fabric of the American public health system that state and local governments shouldn’t overlook.
As part of their proposal, House Republicans intend to eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund, the largest individual federal funding source set aside for disease prevention, by 2019.
This isn’t the first time the fund—which was established by the Affordable Care Act in 2010—has come under attack from the GOP. In 2012, House Republicans proposed a plan that would maintain a low interest rate for Stafford student loans by cutting funds from the PPHF. And, earlier that same year Congress dipped into the fund to use $5 billion to pay for a payroll tax extension. In fact, since its creation, the PPHF’s original allocation has already been cut by 50 percent.
Setting aside the vast implications of the fact that the fund accounts for 12 percent of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s entire budget, the loss of that money would be felt in communities across the country.
According to Chrissie Juliano, the director of the Big Cities Health Coalition, which is part of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, without an alternative funding source, state and local public health departments alone stand to lose as much as $3 billion over the next five years. And, an additional $2 billion could be lost to the entire public health system in that same time period.