Health Groups Rally for Public Health Fund

National Journal

Public health groups are rallying the troops to try to help preserve the public health fund created under the 2010 health reform law, which Republicans now say they’ll raid to help pay for a student loan program.

Republicans call it a slush fund, while public health experts who called for the fund say it protects vital programs from the vagaries of year-to-year Congressional funding fights – fights like this one.

“For example, funding for rural health programs at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) decreased by more than $10 million from Fiscal Year 2008 to FY 2009, but then increased by nearly $10 million in FY2010. These types of fluctuations in funding streams make it difficult to maintain and enhance public health programs,” the American Public Health Association said in one plea sent to supporters.

The Prevention and Public Health Fund is meant to be used the fund will be used for programs at the local, state, and federal level to fight obesity, smoking, obesity and pandemics and bioterror attacks.

“By repeatedly proposing elimination of the Prevention and Public Health Fund, policymakers have focused on a series of short-term ‘fixes,’ and, in so doing, are jeopardizing the health and wellbeing of all Americans,” said Richard Hamburg, Deputy Director of the Trust for America’s Health.

“Thus far, policymakers have attempted to use the $15 billion Fund to pay for what appears to be a never-ending parade of offsets for other policy priorities. The health and wellness of Americans are not pawns to be played in a game of federal finances.”

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