Public Health Funding Policy Activities

After decades of under-investment, our public health system lacks the resources it needs to tackle the full range of health threats, from potential chemical or biological attacks, to serious chronic disease epidemics, or emerging infectious diseases like avian influenza. As the lead federal agency for protecting the public's health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) budget must reflect the vital role it plays in the lives of every individual, every day, and its increasing responsibilities for homeland security.

Letters Position Statements and Letters

Group Letter in Support of Increased Funding for National Center for Environmental Health (April 2016)
Read the Letter

Group Letter in Support of Emergency Funding for Zika Preparedness and Response (February 2016)
Read the Letter 

Group Letter in Support of Increased Funding for National Center for Environmental Health (March 2014)
Read the Letter

Archived Letters


Written Statement of John Auerbach, President and CEO of Trust for America's Health to House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health & Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (March 2017)
TFAH Testimony 

Written Statement of Jeffrey Levi, PhD, Executive Director of Trust for America's Health to House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health & Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (April 2015)
TFAH Testimony

Archived Testimony

Critical Care List: TFAH Public Health Funding Priorities Fiscal Year 2017

Every American should have the opportunity to be as healthy as he or she can be. Every community should be safe from threats to its health. All individuals and families should have access to a high level of services that protect and support their health, regardless of who they are or where they live. But right now, Americans are not as healthy as they could or should be. More than half of Americans live with one or more chronic disease, which costs our health system billions; recent infectious disease outbreaks illustrated persistent gaps in the country’s preparedness for diseases, disasters, and bioterrorism; and prescription drug abuse has quickly grown into a full-blown epidemic, with overdose deaths quadrupling in just over a decade. 

In order to build a public health system prepared to deal with these challenges, a set of core capabilities must be funded on a strong and steady basis. The lingering effects of fiscal austerity, including sequestration, have fundamentally eroded the country’s ability to respond to disasters, prevent chronic diseases, reduce health disparities, and ensure the health of all Americans. While the Fiscal Year 2015 and 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bills restored some prior cuts to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other critical public health agencies, a very positive outcome, we need a long-term commitment to building the nation’s public health capabilities.

Listed below are the FY 2017 funding priorities for Trust for America’s Health (TFAH). Together, these programs will help prevent disease, save lives, and reduce long-term health costs.

The Prevention and Public Health Fund

The Prevention and Public Health Fund (the Fund) is the nation’s only dedicated funding source for prevention and public health. To date, the Fund has invested over $6 billion to enable communities in every state to invest in effective, proven public health and prevention efforts. These investments support state and local public health efforts to transform and revitalize communities, build epidemiology and laboratory capacity, train the nation’s public health workforce, prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, expand access to vaccines, reduce tobacco use, and control the obesity epidemic.

The Fund has provided the first-ever, reliable national funding stream for public health while also creating jobs, bending the healthcare cost curve, and prioritizing disease prevention. For the past three years, Congress has exercised its authority to allocate the Prevention Fund. TFAH urges Congress to do so again in FY 2017 and to direct funding toward essential public health programsto help reduce healthcare costs and create a long-term path to a healthier and economically sound America.

Preventing and Reducing Chronic Disease

Chronic diseases are responsible for 80 percent of healthcare costs in the United States and the causes are often environmental, social, or economic and not adequately addressed by simply investing in the clinical healthcare system. 

  • CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion coordinates with public and private partners to work toward health outcome goals: reducing rates of death and disability due to tobacco use, reducing the prevalence of obesity and reducing rates of death and disability due to diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. TFAH recommends $61,000,000 for the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. This would represent an $11.08 million increase, which would permit CDC to increase enhanced support to state health departments to deploy interventions focused specifically on improving nutrition and promoting physical activity to 18 states and D.C. It also would help support a proposed $15 million expansion of coordinated activities in Indian Country and additional funding for the work being done in high-obesity rate counties.  
  • The Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program, administered by CDC, works in communities across the country to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health and to reduce the burden of chronic disease among at-risk populations. REACH complements other community-based programs, but is unique in offering culturally sensitive, evidence- and practice-based strategies to address the root causes of chronic disease among racial and ethnic minorities neglected by our healthcare system. TFAH recommends funding REACH at $51 million to maintain funding as the program enters a new three-year cooperative agreement.

Fighting Environmental Causes of Disease

Much of our health is affected by the environment in which we live, work, learn, and play. Supporting research and implementing the knowledge it generates helps to create safe, healthy environments that are free of environmental toxicants and other hazards to enable people to make healthy choices that are not currently possible in many communities across the country.  Yet without the right data, researchers and policymakers struggle to answer basic questions about life-threatening health conditions

  • Since 2002, the National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network has provided data on cancer rates, reproductive health outcomes, birth defects, socioeconomics, air quality, community design, and developmental disabilities to help policymakers answer basic questions about health. TFAH recommends funding CDC’s National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network at $50 million to add at least three more states to the network and improve data collection efforts toward the eventual goal of creating a true nationwide network.

Preparing for Public Health Emergencies and Pandemics 

The recent Ebola and Zika outbreaks have demonstrated that we cannot become complacent in the face of public health emergencies. In the past year, state and local health departments and health systems have responded to crises like the Flint water contamination, extreme weather, wildfires, outbreaks of HIV, measles, Legionnaire’s and other infectious diseases, and mass casualty events. However, federal, state, and local budget cuts threaten more than a decade of progress. More than any other source, federal dollars fund state and local agencies to ensure that they have the vital public health infrastructure and capacity to prepare for and respond to acts of terrorism, natural disasters, and infectious disease outbreaks. The CDC and the HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) work to ensure that public health and health systems can respond adequately and effectively when disaster strikes. CDC’s Division of Global Health Protection contributes to global health security by building public health capacity to detect and respond to outbreaks. 

  • The Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) Cooperative Agreements program at CDC is the only federal program that supports the work of health departments to prepare for and respond to all types of disasters, including bioterror attacks, natural disasters, and infectious disease outbreaks. PHEP supports 62 state and local grantees to develop 15 core public health capabilities, including in the areas of public health laboratory testing, health surveillance and epidemiology, community resilience, countermeasures and mitigation, incident management, information management, and surge capacity. The grants fund nearly 4,000 state and local public health preparedness staff positions, 75 percent of state and local electronic disease surveillance systems, and 81 percent of state and local emergency management capability. TFAH recommends $675 million for Public Health Emergency Preparedness Cooperative Agreements to address gaps in state and local preparedness.
  • The Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP), administered by the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), provides funding and technical assistance to every state and territory to prepare the health system to respond to and recover from a disaster. HPP is building the capacity of healthcare coalitions (HCCs) - regional collaborations between healthcare organizations, providers, emergency managers, public sector agencies, and other private partners - to meet the disaster healthcare needs of communities.  Healthcare coalitions’ roles include conducting exercises and trainings, providing situational awareness across the system, sharing resources, and leading scenario planning. The grants support nearly 500 healthcare coalitions with 24,000 participating facilities from across the health system, an increase of 47 percent in membership since 2013. ASPR supports coalitions to develop key capabilities, including health system preparedness and recovery, emergency operations coordination, information sharing, medical surge and responder safety. Most jurisdictions receive no other federal or state support for health system preparedness.  TFAH recommends $300 million for HPP as FY17 marks the beginning of the new project period, which will shift the focus of the program from supporting establishment of healthcare coalitions to ensuring they are ready to respond to emergencies.
  • The CDC’s Division of Global Health Protection (DGHP) protects Americans and people around the world from the leading public health threats. The Division builds the capacities of local, national and regional public health to detect emerging threats, prevent disease and prepare for and respond to public health emergencies. The centerpiece of the division is the Global Disease Detection (GDD) program, which supports GDD Centers in 10 countries (Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Georgia and the South Caucasus, Guatemala and Central America, India, Kazakhstan and Central Asia, Kenya, South Africa and Thailand) and has extended a regional reach and support to 50 countries.  The GDD Centers work with local ministries of health to develop core capacities such as emerging infectious disease detection and response, field epidemiology and laboratory training, pandemic flu preparedness and response, zoonotic disease detection and control, health communication and information technology, and laboratory systems and biosafety, as well as cooperative agreements with academic partners and ministries of health. TFAH recommends $65.2 million for the Division of Global Health Protection, including a $5 million increase for Global Disease Detection to build a new GDD regional center.

Addressing the Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic

Prescription drug abuse is a public health epidemic. Approximately 6.1 million Americans abuse or misuse prescription drugs, and more than 60 Americans die every day from a prescription drug overdose. Overdose deaths involving prescription painkillers have quadrupled since 1999 and now outnumber deaths from all illicit drugs, including heroin and cocaine, combined. This epidemic is also contributing to an increase in heroin overdose deaths. Addressing the misuse and abuse of prescription and illicit opioids requires investments both in prevention and in treatment of those already suffering from substance misuse.

  • TFAH recommends $80 million for the CDC’s Injury Center to provide a national response to a national epidemic by expanding its work to all 50 states and the District of Columbia. CDC is working with states to expand the use of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs); identify and scale up promising prevention practices in hospitals and health systems; evaluate overdose prevention policies such as naloxone administration; and improve data collection efforts. The $10 million increase in FY17 will allow the CDC to disseminate opioid prescribing guidelines for chronic pain, which are currently under development. These guidelines will be an important tool for prescribers to make informed decisions about when opioid treatment is necessary, with the understanding that some patients suffering from chronic pain do need access to these medications.

  • TFAH recommends $20 million for Grants to Prevent Prescription Drug/Opioid Overdose Related Deaths at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA).  This program is providing grants to 10 states to reduce significantly the number of opioid overdose-related deaths by expanding access to lifesaving rescue medication. The $8 million increase would allow SAMHSA to expand the reach of this program to at least eight additional states which are heavily impacted by opioid abuse and help equip and train state and local health departments, drug treatment and recovery programs, community-based overdose prevention programs and first responders with devices that rapidly reverse the effects of opioids.


Budget-Related Links

The President's FY 2016 Budget

The Department of Health and Human Services' FY 2016 Budget

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's FY 2016 Budget

TFAH FY 2018 Funding Priorities

Health Tracking Network

Chronic Disease Prevention

Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health

Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Hospital Preparedness

Prescription Drug Overdose Program

Global Public Health Protection

Antibiotic Resistance Initiative

Related Policy Priorities

Health Reform Implementation


Pandemic Flu and Infectious Disease Prevention

Bioterrorism and Public Health Preparedness

Substance Abuse and Misuse

Child and School Health

Environmental Health

Public Health Funding

Health Disparities

Workplace and Community Wellness