The American Health Care Act, which passed two
"This would be a huge hit for us at the state level," said
Other programs that would be affected in
The effects would be felt throughout public health agencies, starting at the federal
That money is distributed throughout the system, including local public health agencies, which in
"This funding is like bread and butter," said
Ehlinger, who met with congressional and federal officials last week, said the importance of public health funding has gotten lost in the efforts to remake federal health policy, especially the push to repeal the health insurance mandate and the replacement of health insurance premium subsidies with tax credits.
As part of a delegation of public health officials, Ehlinger stressed that the federal government had funded many of these public health activities long before the ACA took effect and that the cuts would undermine a system that relies on federal, state and local agencies that work closely together.
Ehlinger said that
"He didn't say that there wouldn't be any losses," said Ehlinger. "I think he recognizes that there are public health issues here."
This comes at a time when the Trump administration has signaled that it will seek cuts in domestic programs, partly to pay for a buildup in military spending. Some in public health are worried that the CDC could take another hit on top of the loss of the prevention fund.
"Public health is fighting for a piece of that shrinking pie," said
One core program likely to be affected offers free vaccines for low-income families and children. The prevention fund pays for nearly half the cost of the nation's immunization assistance programs. Local health agencies also use the funds to educate the public, including immigrant communities, about the disease protection that vaccines provide.
"Our immunization rates were lower in some communities; we specifically targeted some money to see how can we increase those rates," said
Loss of the funds would mean that some healthy living efforts and staff would need to be cut in half, Musicant said.
State officials said the state's ability to respond to outbreaks, including infectious diseases like the Zika virus, would be diminished. Food-borne illness investigations would also be affected.
That, in turn, would affect local health departments because they rely on the state, with its nationally recognized laboratory, for expertise.
"It is not like we are stand-alone systems," said
Public health administrators also predicted that the loss of prevention money will end up costing the health care system more due to rising disease rates, particularly the growing problem of chronic diseases.
"If we don't have the prevention fund there's going to be bigger costs down the road for any number of things," said
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