President Barack Obama announced his fiscal year 2017 budget yesterday, which APHA called a mixed bag of improved public health safeguards and harmful funding cuts.
The budget notably included a decrease of $194 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It included elimination of the Preventive Health Services Block Grant, along with cuts to the Section 317 immunization program, environmental health tracking program and the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health program. Additionally, the request would eliminate the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Area Health Education Centers program, which supports primary care, workforce diversity and health care quality training and improvement in underserved areas.
The total request for HRSA provided a slight increase from FY16, which underscores the importance of investing in essential health programs to improve access to care for medically vulnerable people. However, the more than $400 million in cuts to discretionary funding reflected current budget caps in place that make it impossible to make the needed investments.
“We welcome the administration’s efforts to tackle emerging health threats. But plain and simple, we’re going to need a strong and sustained investment in public health to create the healthiest nation in one generation,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, executive director of APHA, in a news release. ”Unfortunately the tight caps under the Budget Control Act make it extremely difficult to adequately fund bedrock public health programs.”
APHA was pleased with several important increases in the request, including CDC programs to bolster antibiotic resistance, fund gun violence prevention research and address prescription drug abuse; HRSA program to improve family planning; and Food and Drug Administration programs to improve prevention-based food safety systems. Earlier this week, APHA expressed support for Obama’s $1.1 billion proposal for new mandatory funding to combat prescription opioid and heroin use.
Read APHA’s full statement online.