Cutting Funding to the Prevention and Public Health Fund Risks Public Health
By Samer Koutoubi, M.D., Ph.D.
Program Director and Faculty Member, Public Health at American Public University
According to the nonprofit organizations Trust for America’s Health (TFHA) and the American Public Health Association (APHA), the Prevention and Public Health Fund’s existence is in jeopardy. Created in 2010 and funded by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), this fund is the first federal funding source dedicated to public health and prevention.
The Prevention and Public Health Fund also represents a unique opportunity to reduce healthcare costs in the long term. According to TFAH, 75% of all healthcare costs in our country are spent on the treatment of chronic diseases. Many of these chronic diseases are easily preventable.
Prevention and Public Health Funds Supported Healthcare Resources in All States
In 2017, the Prevention and Public Health Fund invested nearly $1 billion in healthcare programs that benefitted every state and allowed communities to move forward on proven, effective ways to keep Americans healthier and more productive. Over the next ten years (FY 2018-27), the Fund’s managers plan to invest a total of $14 billion in cross-cutting prevention programs that can potentially transform our public health system.
In its first eight years, the Fund has invested almost $7 billion. The vast majority of that investment went to resources in states, communities, and tribal and community organizations. These organizations support community-based prevention, including tobacco use prevention, healthy eating, active living, childhood immunizations and clinical prevention.
Congress and Trump Administration Cut Aid to Prevention and Public Health Fund
On February 9, Congress passed and President Trump signed a bill that cut $1.35 billion from the Prevention Fund over the next 10 years. This action is unfortunate because this fund is critical for supporting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Prevention and Public Health Fund makes up 12% of the CDC’s budget.
With this aid reduced, healthcare programs around the country will suffer. That includes programs that support our children’s health, such as vaccinations, tobacco use prevention, eating healthy and other public health programs. Also, prevention for chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease rely on the Prevention and Public Health Fund.
All private sectors and the government have the responsibility to develop and maintain a healthy community. Applying prevention strategies can be very helpful and effective in decreasing the incidents of chronic diseases, such as obesity and diabetes.
Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association (APHA), has urged Congress to increase public health funding in 2018. He stated, “APHA is deeply disappointed that the spending deal cuts $1.35 billion from the Prevention and Public Health Fund over the next 10 years. This funding is a critical component of CDC’s budget, supporting programs in childhood lead poisoning prevention, vaccinations and other important public health activities. Congress should repeal these cuts and restore the Prevention Fund to prior funding levels.”
Congress Should Prioritize the Health of Americans
We all know the old saying: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. When comes to public health and prevention, Congress should put the health of Americans first and continue to fund key critical programs that support the health and wellness of our communities. Let’s keep America healthy.
About the Author
Dr. Koutoubi earned his Ph.D. in Dietetics and Nutrition from Florida International University in 2001. He earned his M.D. degree in 1988 from Iuliu Hațieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Dr. Koutoubi’s research focuses on coronary heart disease among tri-ethnic groups including African-Americans, Caucasians and Hispanics. His interest is in disease prevention and wellness, epidemiological research, cardiovascular disease and nutrition, homocysteine metabolism, lipoprotein metabolism, and cultural food and health.
Dr. Koutoubi has also authored a number of articles in peer-reviewed journals and written a book review. He served as the Editor-in-Chief for The Internet Journal of Alternative Medicine and reviewed manuscripts for The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Ethnicity and Disease Journal, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and The Journal of The National Medical Association. Dr. Koutoubi has written for several blogs, such as In Homeland Security, Online Learning Tips, MultiBriefs, Medium and Healthcare POV. He has also been quoted in national magazines and newspapers, including Natural Health Magazine, Energy Time, Well Being Journal, Northwest Prime Time and Natural Food Merchandiser.