CHICAGO. From the Notebook: City Official Appears on D.C. Panel. (Chicago Tribune)

By Katherine Skiba,

Dr. Julie Morita, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, will appear Tuesday on a panel on Capitol Hill to talk about funding for public health programs.

Morita on Monday said more federal money is needed to detect and respond to outbreaks of illnesses such as influenza, mumps, measles, whooping cough, meningitis and the Zika virus.

She worries that if insurance coverage for so-called essential health benefits is eliminated, fewer people will obtain vaccines and be screened for diseases such as breast and colon cancer. Such steps prevent disease or allow for early detection, Morita said.

A flyer for the panel discussion says just as with the nation’s roads and bridges, its public health infrastructure “remains antiquated and in need of modernization.”

Count her among opponents of a GOP effort in the Senate to dismantle Obamacare, which she said led to about 300,000 more Chicagoans obtaining health insurance. A recent study showed just over 9 percent of city residents are not insured, which she called a record low. 

The event is sponsored by the Congressional Public Health Caucus, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers including U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Evanston Democrat.

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