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The American Health Care Act proposed by House Republicans would slash a major public health fund, and it has doctors and public health experts worried.
The Prevention and Public Health Fund was established under the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare law better known as Obamacare, to give a boost to the funding public health agencies have to try to keep people from getting sick.
The fund supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among other groups.
Today it makes up about 12% of the CDC’s budget, or about $1 billion. The CDC describes it as “the nation’s first mandatory funding stream dedicated to improving our nation’s public health system.”
The majority of the funds get passed on to state and local public health efforts.
The American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, and the American Lung Association all said they wouldn’t support the Obamacare replacement bill, in part because of the repeal of the fund. And more than 500 public health organizations wrote a letter to President Donald Trump on March 3 calling on him to keep the fund.
Among other things, the Prevention and Public Health Fund is used to fund:
- Diabetes prevention Increasing vaccine coverage Education and prevention efforts for Alzheimer’s disease Heart disease and stroke prevention Helping local public health officials detect and monitor infectious disease outbreaks, like measles, Zika, or bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics
A former CDC director, Tom Frieden, tweeted his concerns about the agency losing money.
CDC works 24/protecting Americans. When it loses funds, we are all less safe. https://t.co/F4qnwhZSsN
— Dr. Tom Frieden (@DrFrieden) March 8, 2017
If CDC loses prevention $: children less safe from vaccine-preventable illness, families less safe from hospital infections, food less safe.
— Dr. Tom Frieden (@DrFrieden) March 9, 2017
The acting CDC director, Anne Schuchat, told The Washington Post on Tuesday that cutting the funding could have serious implications on tackling antibiotic resistance, which is a growing threat in the US.
“An outbreak can happen anywhere,” Schuchat said. “It’s not a red- or blue-state kind of thing. And we want to sustain the defense of Americans’ health from these new emerging threats.”