By Sammy Caiola
A multibillion dollar federal fund that helps prevent disease outbreaks and fights chronic conditions may disappear with a Republican plan to revamp the Affordable Care Act, worrying local physicians and county officials who say they rely on the money to sustain community health.
The GOP legislation, as it was released Monday, proposes cutting a piece of the Affordable Care Act called the Prevention and Public Health Fund – a store of federal money created to bolster immunization rates, disease surveillance, workforce training and community health education, among other programs. If the replacement legislation passes, county and state agencies throughout California will lose millions of dollars they relied on for public health efforts. Those governments also used the grants to prepare for emergencies such as Ebola and Zika virus outbreaks, health officials said.
The Prevention and Public Health Fund has provided more than $4 billion nationally and about $290 million to California since its launch, including $4 million directly to groups in the Sacramento area. That money goes to government agencies such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Administration for Community Living, who then distribute it to state and local health departments as well as hospitals, universities and nonprofit groups.
In the Sacramento area, the fund has supported major public health projects including:
▪ A $98,950 UC Davis effort to prevent the spread of viral hepatitis through early identification.
▪ A $101,999 project at Sierra College in Rocklin to fight suicide among college students.
▪ A $484,389 initiative from the California Center for Public Health Advocacy in Davis to reduce chronic disease in diverse communities.
▪ A $2,661,141 effort by the California Rural Indian Health Board in Sacramento to prevent diabetes among American Indians. In 2017, the fund will award more than $900 million to programs throughout the U.S. addressing Alzheimer’s disease, immunization, breastfeeding, lead poisoning, youth suicide and more.
The Republican plan proposes discontinuing the fund starting in fiscal year 2019. The Affordable Care Act, which went into effect in 2010, not only expanded insurance coverage but also started initiatives to address a range of health issues, such as high hospital readmission rates, electronic medical record adoption and rising drug prices for Medicare enrollees. Read more