For Immediate Release: December 7, 2016
Trust for America’s Health: Deeply Disappointed Congress Utilized the Prevention Fund as a 21st Century Cures Offset
Washington, D.C., December 7, 2016 – The below is a statement from Rich Hamburg, interim president and CEO, of Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) on the 21st Century Cures legislative package.
“TFAH is deeply disappointed Congress will utilize the Prevention and Public Health Fund as an offset for the legislative package known as 21st Century Cures. Cutting the Prevention Fund will limit the nation’s ability to improve health and quality of life and prevent disease.
While TFAH supports aspects of this legislative package, including the much-needed funds to address the opioid epidemic, we remain opposed to using the Prevention Fund to offset the cost of this legislation.
The Prevention Fund is inextricably tied to the nation’s future ability to reign in healthcare costs. This is the nation’s first and only substantial investment in moving from our current “sick care” system to a true preventive health system. The Prevention Fund should be dedicated to its intended purpose: helping all Americans stay healthy.
Despite the exponentially growing burden of largely preventable diseases, federal disease prevention and public health programs remain critically underfunded. Public health spending is still below pre-recession levels, having remained relatively flat for years. Today, more than 12 percent of the CDC budget is supplied through Prevention Fund investments, including the 317 immunization program, epidemiology and laboratory capacity grants and the entire Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant program—all critical to preparing for and responding to public health emergencies.
The United States spends $3 trillion annually on healthcare without much to show for it: Millions of Americans suffer from chronic diseases, which are responsible for seven out of 10 deaths and $1.3 trillion in treatment costs and lost productivity every year.
And, two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese and nearly 20 percent of Americans smoke. Obesity costs the country $147 billion and tobacco use leads to another $130 billion in healthcare spending each year.
Time and again research shows that the vast majority of these chronic diseases can be prevented by investing in addressing the root causes. Yet, the country has repeatedly failed to do so.
The nation cannot afford to trade away our single best investment in preventing disease, preparing for and responding to infectious disease outbreaks, reducing rates of chronic illness, and saving lives and money.”
Trust for America’s Health is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority. www.healthyamericans.org