Last week, Congress passed and the President signed a $1.1 trillion spending plan that funds the federal government through September 2016. This follows the enactment of a two-year bipartisan budget deal, which established overall spending levels and partially lifted sequestration through fiscal year 2017.
The 2000-page spending bill packs several wins for community prevention, but also some setbacks:
- Fully funds and allocates the Prevention and Public Health Fund.
- Maintains funding for Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH).
- Reserves funding for the third and final year of the Partnerships to Improve Community Health (PICH) program, though the details of this particular allocation are still unfolding.
- Leaves out most harmful policy riders (like defunding Planned Parenthood) that were under consideration during budget negotiations.
- Preserves tobacco control funding for initiatives like the Tips from Former Smokers media campaign.
- Boosts the CDC’s injury prevention and control funding with an emphasis on preventing opioid prescription drug overdose.
- Maintains funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s mental health programs, including suicide prevention and youth violence prevention.
- Extends a 19-year ban on gun violence research.
- Fails to reauthorize child nutrition programs, including the WIC Special Supplemental Nutrition Program and the Afterschool Snack and Meal program.
- Places new restrictions on future dietary guidelines that may limit discussions of long-term food security and environmental sustainability.
- Eliminates funding for workplace wellness and scales back funding for health promotion.
- Allows schools to waive whole grain food requirements on individual products and delays further reductions to sodium requirements for school meals.
Advocates like you played a critical role in protecting and expanding federal investments in community prevention. Earlier drafts of the spending bill threatened key sources of prevention funding, but pressure from constituents to protect investments in their communities made a difference. However, there’s a lot of work that still needs to be done, and new opportunities--and challenges--await us in 2016. We look forward to working together in the New Year.