Cuts Hurt

Click on this graphic to view personal stories of public health funding cuts impacting communities. Photo by the Coalition for Health Funding

One look at an interactive U.S. map shows how much public health budget “cuts hurt” our nation’s health system. But a new report from the Coalition for Health Funding reveals more than just data, focusing more on the human element of the consequences.

With more than 20 testimonials, Faces of Austerity tells real-life examples of Americans becoming sicker, poorer and less secure because of federal budget cuts, notably including the layoff of more than 50,000 public health professionals. They include:

“I hate having to call the police, but the only place I know they are safe is in jail,” O’Dell said in the report. “They shouldn’t be in jail because they are sick, but that’s the only option.

The report uses the term “austerity” to highlight a systemic infrastructure that is unsympathetic to the nation’s growing health needs. Sequestration cut a mandatory 5 percent from the federal public health budget in its first year of taking effect.

“Americans do feel the pain of policymakers’ budgetary decisions, and continued health cuts do more harm than good,” the authors conclude. “We hope our report will compel policymakers to work together and put an end to this dark age of austerity.”

Find out how budget cuts have affected your communities using the coalition’s online map.