Thanks to your efforts, Prevention Fund cuts were not as severe as had been feared
Last week, Congress passed and President Trump signed a continuing resolution to keep the government open through March 23 and increase domestic and defense spending over the next two years. In some positive news for public health, the legislation extended funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program to 10 years, renewed funding for community health centers and the National Institutes of Health, provided disaster relief and increased Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico, and funneled $6 billion to address the opioid crisis over the next two years.
Thanks to the efforts of public health champions like you and some of our key allies in the Senate, the final bill cut the Prevention and Public Health Fund less than had been feared. The cut went from $2.85 billion over 10 years in the House version of the bill to $1.35 billion in the final bill. In fact, the final bill restored some of the money that had been cut from the Prevention Fund in December.
Still, health and public health were again targeted yesterday when the Trump administration released its 2018 budget proposal. The proposal would slash the Department of Health and Human Services’ budget by more than 20% next year, repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety, drain the CDC’s budget by $878 million next year, and eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund, proposing that programs under the fund be backfilled through discretionary spending, meaning that Congress would need to allocate funding each year through the appropriations process.*
Thankfully, the White House budget proposal, which also urges cuts to Medicaid, nutrition assistance, housing assistance, community development block grants, the Environmental Protection Agency, and much more, is just that – a proposal. Ultimately, Congress – not the Trump administration – will craft the spending plan. As these budget negotiations are underway, it will be our responsibility to monitor the process carefully and urge Congress to invest in – not cut – programs that support health and equity.
In 2017, we saw – again and again – that diverse voices speaking out together against efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and block damaging policies can make a meaningful difference. In 2018, we need to be prepared to do more of the same, as well as to pay attention to the less visible ways that the administration may change or loosen regulations, as we’ve seen in recent weeks with states receiving waivers to implement work requirements for Medicaid recipients and rule change that could deny immigrants the ability to stay in the US if their families use certain social services–services that immigrants and/or their US-born children are legally entitled to access. Whether highly visible or buried in administrative processes, we must be alert to changes that undermine our core values of equity, diversity, and opportunity.
*Note: Analyses of the president’s proposed budget are preliminary.