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  • Fund Critical Health Programs without Compromising Public Health

    11/01/2017

    Statement of IDSA President Paul Auwaerter, MD, FIDSA, HIVMA Chair Melanie Thompson, MD, PIDS President Paul Spearman, MD, FPIDS:

    The CHAMPION Act under consideration by the U.S. House of Representatives this week would cut $10.5 billion from the Prevention and Public Health Fund, 75 percent of its budget. This fund provides critical support for essential public health activities. The reduction over the next eight years would entirely eliminate the Fund by 2026. IDSA and HIVMA deeply oppose slashing the Fund that supports more than 12 percent of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention total annual finances.

    The proposed cut would diminish state and local capacities for detecting and responding to disease outbreaks, weaken efforts to combat growing antimicrobial resistance, undermine responses to known and emerging infections, and leave critical immunization programs with insufficient resources. The budgetary impact will compromise both public health and national security. We urge Representatives to vote against the bill as it now stands.

    There are many examples of critical activities supported by the Fund. Prevention of healthcare associated infections, including by antimicrobial-resistant pathogens is a top priority. Access to routinely recommended immunizations that protect Americans from the spread of serious illnesses such as measles, pertussis, and influenza is an important prevention strategy while the ability to achieve mass immunization efforts in response to outbreaks needs to remain a priority for our nation’s safety. In addition, drastically cutting the CDC funding will leave the agency ill-equipped to respond to the opioid epidemic, just recently declared a public health emergency by the President. Dramatic increases in new hepatitis A, hepatitis C and sexually transmitted diseases would be left without sufficient attention.

    The bill proposes to divert funds from the Prevention and Public Health Fund to support the Community Health Center Program, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the National Health Service Corps (NHSC). We strongly support funding for all of these programs. Community health centers play a critical role in public health by supporting local access to preventive and primary care regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. CHIP provides health coverage to nearly 9 million children. The NHSC program provides scholarships and loan repayment to providers who agree to practice in underserved areas, including community health centers. Draining the Public Health and Prevention Fund to support these valuable programs, however, is self-defeating and will ultimately cost more than it saves. Sustaining a strong public health infrastructure to prevent, to monitor and to respond to disease outbreaks serves to protect the health of Americans. These programs work in tandem with the important services delivered by community health centers, NHSC providers, and healthcare access supported by CHIP coverage.

    We urge representatives to work together in our shared public health interests by reauthorizing funding for the Community Health Centers Program, the CHIP and the NHSC while sustaining the Prevention and Public Health Fund. Pitting one public health program against the other will not serve the public’s health or the public’s purse.

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