President Obama’s budget proposal for 2016 was released earlier this month, with mixed news for public health. We are pleased that the budget includes a commitment of over $100 million to combat prescription drug misuse and heroin abuse. The budget also allocates $8 million to help standardize the capabilities of local and state health departments to assure the public of the departments’ ability to keep all residents healthy. An increase on cigarette tax is proposed to help fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Investments to protect Americans from infectious disease and foodborne illness are included as well.
However, the budget also includes significant cut to prevention programs. The administration has proposed elimination of the $160 million Prevention Services Block Grant that is currently utilized by health departments to improve their capabilities. Additionally, significant cuts to chronic disease prevention have been proposed. This means less funding for crucial public health programs that work to reduce and prevent obesity and tobacco use. Other cuts significantly reduce funding for the Partnerships for Improving Community Health (PICH) and the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity programs. The Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) will also be eliminated.
We encourage you to read the Trust for America’s Health’s statement on the President’s proposed budget cuts as they relate to public health. You can view the full budget proposal here. As debate in Washington continues on the budget, we will keep you updated on actions you can take to support adequate public health funding.