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Big Cities Health Coalition Applauds House Passage of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Spending Bill
Includes Funds for Teen Pregnancy Prevention, Prevention and Public Health Fund, and Other Public Health Priorities
Washington, D.C. - Today the Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC) applauded members of the House of Representatives on the passage of a major spending bill that will significantly boost public health efforts across the nation. The bill, which was passed overwhelmingly in the Senate last week, includes funding for many programs that will help local health departments’ ability to respond to public health threats like the opioid epidemic, teen pregnancy prevention and other priorities. The spending bill will now go to the White House for consideration by the president.
“We are so pleased that Congress was able to work together, and across party lines, to pass legislation that will undoubtedly make us all healthier, safer and more prepared,” said Chrissie Juliano, Director of the Big Cities Health Coalition. “Local health departments are on the front lines in addressing public health issues and the funding provided in this legislation will make it possible for them to advance their priorities. On behalf of our members, I urge the president to sign this bipartisan bill without delay.”
The Big Cities Health 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 55 million people, or one in six Americans.
The bill includes many of the Coalition’s priorities such as language that instructs the CDC to “extend eligibility to local health departments” when allocating prevention and response dollars for the ongoing opioid epidemic. Cities are on the front lines of this crisis, but all too often resources fail to make it to local level. Importantly, the bill fully funds the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, which the Coalition has previously advocated for and which provides resources to prevent unintended teen pregnancies in localities across the US. Large, urban health departments are currently experiencing great success in lowering teen pregnancy rates across the country, in part due to this prevention program. Finally, the bill also funds the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) at $804.5 million, an increase of $3.6 million over last year. The PPHF is a major source of funding for health and prevention activities in local communities and states, and also provides dollars for key programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These funds are integral to the work of local and state health departments.
Other highlights in the bill include:
· Overall, CDC's program level increased by $126.5 million (given that FY2018 included one-time lab construction funding).
· $10 million for surveillance for emerging threats to mothers and babies, to continue tracking the impacts of Zika and other threats.
· $5 million increase for Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program.
· $50 million to establish an Infectious Disease Rapid Response Fund.
· $5 million for a new initiative to address infectious disease challenges related to the opioid epidemic.
The House also voted this week to reauthorize the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act. With the Carolinas still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, and flu season just beginning, the Coalition praised the passage of the bill. This important legislation maintains the commitment of the federal government to local public health preparedness. The Coalition urges the Senate to take action without delay.