Dangerous. Short-sighted. Devastating. These are just a few of the choice words public health advocates used to describe the spending bill approved by a House Appropriations subcommittee today.
The measure, which determines spending for fiscal year 2013 for a number of federal agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services, would dramatically reduce or eliminate funding for many health programs.
Proposed cuts include an 11 percent reduction for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, significant decreases to the Health Resources and Services Administration and to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the elimination of funding for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Title X Family Planning program.
“How can Congress justify the elimination of a critical health agency and severe cuts to other programs?” asked Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research America, an organization that supports investing in health research, in a statement.
How can Congress justify the elimination of a critical health agency and severe cuts to other programs?
— Mary Woolley, Research America
In addition, the subcommittee proposal would stop implementation of much of the Affordable Care Act and rescind its Prevention and Public Health Fund, just the latest assault on health reform.
“Here we have a law that is working to address a number of the biggest challenges facing our health system: escalating costs, uneven quality, discriminatory insurance practices, rising numbers of uninsured and a shrinking primary care workforce,” said APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin in a statement. “What will it take for Congress to recognize this growing crisis and begin to work together to protect the health of Americans?”
The subcommittee also approved a number of legislative riders that, according to APHA, will harm the health of all Americans and increase the cost of care.
“Disease and disaster can strike anyone at any time, and they know no political party, location or economic status,” said Emily Holubowich, executive director of the Coalition for Health Funding, in a news release. “The cuts in the spending bill will hurt all Americans. Our sincere hope is Congress can restore bipartisan support for public health programs and put American’s best interests’ first.”
The full House Appropriations Committee is expected to take up the measure next week.