President Barack Obama’s long-awaited fiscal year 2014 budget announced Wednesday was met with mixed emotion among health groups. The overall 2014 budget promises to cancel the $1 trillion in across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration, which went into effect last month.
“Some people may not have been impacted, but there are a lot of folks who are being increasingly impacted all across this country. And that’s why my budget replaces these cuts with smarter ones, making long-term reforms, eliminating actual waste and programs we don’t need anymore,” said Obama making remarks in the White House’s Rose Garden.
However, the budget includes deep cuts to discretionary programs. It wipes out more than $430 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s budget authority, a 7.7 percent reduction compared to fiscal year 2012. This puts CDC’s budget authority at a lower level than in 2003. The proposal reduces the budget authority of the Heath Resources and Services Administration by $190 million compared to fiscal year 2012.
“Cuts outlined in today’s budget will hamper the capacity of state and local public health departments, already beset by drastic spending cuts, to do their work including detect and respond to disease threats, confront gun violence, curb obesity rates and ensure clean air and water,” said Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director of APHA in a statement.
Public health makes up only 3 percent of annual health spending and 1.6 percent of all federal spending. Health groups say it’s not the root cause of the country’s fiscal issues and further cuts to the sector will do little to balance the budget.
“In these tough economic times, cuts in health funding do more harm than good,” said Judy Sherman, president of the Coalition for Health Funding. “We support fiscal responsibility, but not at the expense of America’s health. Investing in programs that keep people healthy is the best way to reduce health care spending and eliminate our debt.”
It’s still somewhat unclear how the Prevention and Public Health Fund, created by the Affordable Care Act, will fare in the budget; however, the fund’s allocations to CDC would be cut by nearly $54 million next year when compared with fiscal year 2012.