FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 24, 2018                     CONTACT: Liz Voyles, liz@brassrc.com, 202-297-9641                                               
 

Big Cities Health Coalition Applauds Congressional Support of Public Health, Urges HHS to Spend Teen Pregnancy Prevention Funding as Intended

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the wake of the U.S. Congress’s passage of the FY2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act, the Big Cities Health Coalition thanked Congress for approving new investments in public health, and asked that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) allocate Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program funding, as directed by the legislative branch.

“We applaud Congress for making a real investment in Americans’ health with this bill, which will help local health departments prevent opioid addiction, limit the damage of health emergencies, and keep more kids safe from lead poisoning,” said Chrissie Juliano, Director of the Big Cities Health Coalition. “Congress has also spoken clearly in supporting the continued successes of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program. So far, this administration’s Department of Health and Human Services has not allocated funding accordingly, announcing the imminent cancellation of the program. We urge the administration to support a healthy future for millions of American teens by funding this program.”

The 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 omnibus bill included $108 million for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program. Teen pregnancy is a top concern among members of the coalition, in part because HHS abruptly announced last summer that it would end 81 prevention program grants two years early, despite the success of the programs, and Congress’s directive to fund them.

The FY2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act also provides a significant increase to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and provides $800 million through the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a critical source of funding for local health department programs.  Notable increases for CDC are:

· $350 million increase to combat the opioid crisis,

· $10 million increase for public health emergency preparedness, and

· $18 million increase for childhood lead poisoning.

Large, urban health departments are currently experiencing great success in lowering teen pregnancy rates across the country. Teen birth rates in the U.S. have dropped 8 percent since 2014, according to the CDC, but the rate is still substantially higher than other industrialized nations.

###