PHI Statement on Fully Funding Programs that Address Health Disparities in the FY 2018 Labor-HHS-Educations Appropriations Bill
July 19, 2017
STATEMENT FROM MATTHEW MARSOM, PHI VICE PRESIDENT FOR PUBLIC POLICY AND PROGRAMS
As the House Appropriations Committee marks up the Labor Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies FY2018 Appropriations bill, PHI encourages members to include full funding for public health and health equity programs. The Public Health Institute endorses the amendment offered by Representatives Barbara Lee and José Serrano that fully funds critical programs to address health disparities including HHS’s Office of Minority Health and the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health Program (REACH), the nation’s only community-based program working to tackle racial and ethnic health disparities.
These investments are more important than ever. Addressing health disparities helps reduce the nation’s health care costs: the Joint Center for Economic and Political Studies estimates that eliminating health disparities would reduce direct medical expenditures by nearly $230 billion. Yet health disparities continue to widen, and people of color, low-income Americans and tribal communities disproportionately feel the burden of disease.
Through the REACH program, grantees across the country—ranging from state and local health departments to universities and community based organizations—identify, develop, and disseminate effective strategies for addressing health disparities. In California’s Central Valley, PHI’s REACH grantee Cultiva La Salud has implemented physical activity opportunities for almost 80,000 Latino residents and increased access to healthy food for over 60,000 Latino residents. One local school district implemented a procurement policy that brings fresh, California-grown food to over 6,000 students.To ensure that all communities have access to health and opportunities to thrive, we must fully fund REACH and other critical programs already working to improve equitable health outcomes.
PHI supports the Appropriations bill’s funding increase of over $1 billion to the National Institutes of Health, including over $80 billion for the National Cancer Institute; however, we have serious concerns regarding the level of cuts of funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Environment Health Outcomes Tracking Network and chronic disease prevention funding. These programs are critical to advancing health nationally and around the world, and as a result the proposed cuts put the public's health in jeopardy.