Earlier this week, Congress unveiled a $1.1 trillion spending plan that would fund 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. Today, both the House and Senate took up and easily passed the bill, which is expected to be signed into law by the President.
Preliminary analysis of the spending bill reveals both wins and losses for community prevention. On the one hand, the bill fully funds and allocates the Prevention and Public Health Fund, maintains funding for Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH), and leaves out most harmful policy riders (like defunding Planned Parenthood) that were under consideration during budget negotiations. Under this bill, unlike in past years, REACH would be funded completely by the Prevention and Public Health Fund thereby devoting a larger proportion of the Fund to chronic disease prevention and health promotion.
On the other hand, the bill eliminates funding for the third and final year of Partnerships to Improve Community Health (PICH) program, upholds a 19-year ban on gun violence research, and places new restrictions on the development of future dietary guidelines. In the case of PICH funding, we see Congress–yet again–dropping comprehensive community-based prevention before the work is complete.
The implications are clear: we MUST continue to advocate for community prevention funding and make the case for this important work.
New opportunities await us in 2016. And thanks to you and our partners, vital discussions have already begun.