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2017 Senate Labor-HHS Bill Good Start but Not Enough

red cross over capitol building

[Editor’s note: This guest blog post is from Nicole Burda, Deputy Director of Government Relations at the American Public Health Association (APHA).] 

On June 9, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the first Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies bipartisan spending bill in seven years. The bill is an important step forward in the process, but more resources are absolutely necessary to improve and protect the health of Americans. With increases in funding to certain programs and austere budget caps in place, the bill makes cuts to other important public health programs and agencies including a nearly $35 million cut to the Health Resources and Services Administration. The bill once again proposes to eliminate the Health Careers Opportunity Program. The bill would also cut the Public Health Workforce Development program by $4 million, the Newborn Screening for Heritable Disorders program by $2 million and the HIV/AIDS Bureau by $29 million. On a positive note, Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students would receive a $3.1 million increase, Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education would receive a $5 million increase, the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant would receive a $3.5 million increase, Rural Health Outreach would receive a $2 million increase and Telehealth would receive a $1 million increase. 

The bill demonstrates the need for Congress and the President to put an end to the tight budget caps. The cuts to HRSA’s programs need to be restored and more funding is needed for public health programs so that we can continue building on the progress we’ve made and take on the nation’s obstinate and emerging health issues such as health disparities, infant mortality, HIV/AIDS, the opioid crisis and the Zika virus. Now is a good time to talk with your members of Congress about the importance of these programs and call for strong funding.  

For more information on a coalition that advocates for HRSA funding, visit http://friendsofhrsa.org/. For more funding specific information on the Senate LHHS bill, visit the Senate Appropriations Committee website here where all of the related files on the bill are posted. 

 

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