US Capitol

Funding levels for public health set by the House Appropriations Committee last week fall far short of expectations, according to APHA. Photo by Vichie81, courtesy iStockphoto

Funding levels for public health hang in the balance as House appropriators last week set their first spending mark for next year.

The House Appropriations Committee approved its fiscal year 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services funding bill, which funds those and related departments. While the bill provides increases to some health agencies, including some programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and cross-agency efforts to address the opioid epidemic, it does so at the expense of other important public health programs.

The House measure would block funding for implementing the Affordable Care Act, cut CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health by more than half, continue to stifle federal research on gun violence and eliminate CDC’s climate and health program, among other harmful provisions. It would also cut funding for the Health Resources and Services Administration by $222 million and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality by nearly $54 million.

“This is not how you invest in a healthy America,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, executive director of APHA, in a news release.

The bill would also eliminate Title X family planning, which provides comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services to millions who are least able to afford it.

“We should not be limiting access to reproductive health services, especially when we face the threat of Zika,” said Benjamin. “It is unsound public policy and is fiscally irresponsible.”

Senate appropriators adopted their version of the bill last month with similarly mixed results on funding for some public health programs. However, the Senate version of the bill garnered broad bipartisan support as it did not include major ideological policy riders or block funding for the ACA. Funding discussions will continue on Capitol Hill when the House and Senate return from recess in September.

To urge members of Congress to adequately fund federal public health programs, take action with APHA.