House votes to kill preventive health fund

April 13, 2011
Associated Press (in the San Antonio Express-News)

House Republicans continued their multipronged attack on the health care law enacted last year with a vote Wednesday to eliminate a section in the law providing $15 billion over the next decade on such preventive health care issues as fighting obesity, reducing smoking and promoting better nutrition.

Republicans described the Prevention and Public Health Fund as a "slush fund" for the secretary of health and human services that is not subject to congressional approval or oversight.

The vote, almost entirely along party lines, was 236-183.

As with other GOP attempts to overturn or weaken the law, chances of making headway are slim as long as Democrats control the Senate and a Democrat resides in the White House.

The White House said Wednesday that President Barack Obama would be advised to veto the bill because passage "could worsen the nation's health and increase system costs by defunding prevention activities such as programs that promote physical activity, reduce the burden of chronic disease and prevent smoking and other tobacco use."

Republicans were not deterred: "We will repeal Obamacare piece by piece if that is what it takes," said Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C.

Under the law, the HHS secretary has authority to allot some $7 billion through fiscal year 2015 and $2 billion a year thereafter on prevention, wellness and public health programs.

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