Submitted on Mon, 2015-04-27
By SMART Health Claims

Recent news regarding The Prevention and Public Health Fund further reveals the fragile state of public health funding. While investing in preventative health on a local level remains the most effective way to improve current and future health problems, chronic underfunding continues to put communities at risk.

 

The recently passed FY 2016 House of Representatives budget resolution included a proposal to repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund.
 
The Fund, created by the Affordable Care Act, provides Local Health Departments with funding for clinical and community prevention programs, staffing, infrastructure costs, and research.  
 
 

What would a repeal of the Prevention and Public Health Fund mean for local health departments?

If a repeal of the Fund is passed into law, the action would effectively remove upwards of $900 million in public health funding from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in FY 2016. The aftermath would likely necessitate further staff layoffs and the reduction or elimination of funding for immunization programs, preventative health and health services, epidemiology and laboratory capacity programs, as well as obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease and stroke prevention programs.  
 

The Drastic Cuts: A Closer Look

Americans are increasingly suffering from preventable diseases and while research conclusively states that the funding for public health initiatives should increase, the opposite is happening.  Public health funding continues to dramatically decline, revealing deepening concerns about the emphasis on treatment over prevention.
 
Funding Numbers in Brief:
 
  • Adjusted for inflation, public health spending was 10 percent lower in 2013 than 2009.  
     
  • Budgets in 17 states decreased for two or more years in a row and budgets in nine states decreased for three or more years in a row.  In FY 2013-14, the median state funding for public health was $31.06 per person, ranging from a high of $156.01 in Hawaii to a low of $3.59 in Nevada.  
     
  • According to a TFAH analysis, 22 states and Washington D.C. decreased their public health budgets from FY 2012-13 to FY 2013-14.
     
  • Combined federal, state and local public health spending is below pre-recession levels – at $75.4 billion total in 2013 – or $239 per person ($218 adjusted for inflation) compared to $241 per person in 2009.  
     
  • From FY 2008 to FY 2014, the median per capita state spending decreased from $33.71 to $31.06, which represents a cut of more than $1.3 billion adjusted for inflation.
 

Prevention is the Best Medicine

Only 3 percent of health care dollars are spent on prevention.  Studies show that for every dollar spent on prevention, we avoid $5.60 in future health costs.  
 
The Prevention Fund should be fully allocated to support evidence-based and innovative approaches to improve the public health system and reduce disease rates
- “Invest in America’s Health” Annual Report by Trust for America’s Health
 
The repeal of the Prevention and Public Health Fund impacts those in local health in major ways:
 
  1. It limits the availability of public health and prevention programs that save money while improving health and saving lives
     
  2. It limits the ability of public health professionals to prepare and respond to health emergencies and widespread epidemics
     
  3. It slows down research into new vaccines and treatment methods
 

What can you do?

Raise your voice. Your state representatives need to hear your stories about how prevention programs are helping your communities. Contact your state congressional representatives and senators to let them know the importance of public health funding.   
 
If your public health agency is experiencing funding cuts we can help you explore options to fund prevention efforts. Learn more about increasing revenue with a billing program by speaking with one of our public health funding experts today to see how we can help you.
 
 
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