FY 2016 House Budget Proposes to Repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund

March 26, 2015|2:13 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

The House of Representatives passed its FY 2016 budget resolution on Wednesday. Of immediate importance and interest to ASTHO members and partners, the budget proposes to repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund (the Fund), which would effectively remove upwards of $900 million in public health funding from the CDC in FY 16. The House Budget Committee’s report is critical of certain prevention programs that have come under past scrutiny from the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The examples cited were supported under two programs that are no longer financed by Congress and not part of the Fund, so to eliminate the Fund to restrict this spending is a misleading justification for repeal.

Because of the impact of sequestration and other recent budget cuts, the Fund has been a critical source of needed public health dollars, and has been increasingly used by Congress to fund basic public health programs in states that were previously funded with regular discretionary appropriations. These are non-controversial programs that have been funded by CDC for decades and include vital activities such as the 317 Immunization Grant Program, the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant, and programs to prevent diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

The budget resolution is not a legislative vehicle that becomes law, and therefore will not in and of itself repeal the Fund if the Senate concurs in a conference agreement with the House. However, it does send a signal to the authorizing and appropriations committees, which can pass actual repeal legislation. ASTHO strongly encourages state health officials to convey to Congress what the Fund actually supports and how critical it is to our mission. If the Fund is repealed, the Appropriations Committees will have to find this funding by cutting other programs. However, the Fund is a mandatory program that provides additional funding to the Appropriations Committee above the discretionary budget caps, and if the Fund is repealed, it would be extremely difficult for the Appropriations Committee to fully restore these programs with cuts elsewhere. The result would be further staff layoffs at the state agencies that our nation relies upon to address these important health issues.

FY 2015 Prevention and Public Health Fund Programs
(select programs)

Program or ActivityAllocation
Immunization Grants$210 million for immunization and vaccine infrastructure
Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grants$160 million to the 50 states, the District of Columbia, 8 territories and 2 American Indian tribes that allow flexibility in filling budget gaps and responding to emerging health issues and outbreaks
Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity Program$40 Million to help state, local, and territorial grantees detect and respond to infectious diseases and other public health threats
Diabetes$73 million in grants to improve prevention efforts in all states
Cancer$104 million in grants for prevention and control
Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention$73 million to implement and improve prevention efforts
Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity$35 million in base state grants to combat obesity
Lead Poisoning Prevention$13 million to prevent children’s exposure to lead in homes
Health Care Associated Infections (HAIs)$12 million to support public health’s response to HAIs at the state level

In order to protect programs that benefit from the Fund, Sen. Al Franken is circulating a "Dear Colleague" letter for other Senators to express their support to keep the Fund whole. The letter will be delivered to the appropriators to show the Senate’s collective support for protecting public health.

For more information, contact Chris Gould, senior director, government relations at ASTHO.