A general view of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta, Ga., Sept. 30, 2014.
Photo by Tami Chappell/Reuters

CDC funding in the crosshairs in new Republican health plan

As recently as Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expressed some notable concerns about a sudden surge in cases of H7N9 bird flu in China. NBC News reported that the CDC described the cases as “cause for concern,” quoting CDC flu expert Dr. Tim Uyeki saying that the recent infections constitute “by far the largest epidemic wave since 2013.”

The same report added, however, that CDC officials are “working on a vaccine against H7N9 just in case it’s ever needed and is starting work on a second one now because it’s started to mutate.”

It’s against this backdrop that House Republicans, just a few days later, announced some new budget cuts they intend to make.
Bird flu has started killing more people in China, and no one’s sure why. Zika virus is set to come back with a vengeance as the weather warms up and mosquitoes get hungry. Yellow fever is spreading in Brazil, and antibiotic-resistant bacteria are evolving faster than doctors can keep up with them.

And the new health care replacement bill released Monday night by Republican leaders in Congress would slash a billion-dollar prevention fund designed to help protect against those and other threats.
Oh.

The Prevention and Public Health Fund was created by the Affordable Care Act in 2010 as a way to help avert the spread of preventable illness. In recent years, the Fund has been used to support more routine programs, such as efforts to prevent heart disease, suicides, and diabetes, but it’s also included resources to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

This year, the Fund will account for 12% of the CDC’s entire budget.

Vox also had a good piece on this, noting the impact on the federal government’s vaccines program.
The Section 317 vaccines program has been called “the backbone of our nation’s immunization infrastructure.” It ensures doctors get the vaccination doses they need, helps people who can’t afford vaccines gain access to them, and mobilizes responses to outbreaks like measles, among other things. It would lose half its funding [under the Republican plan], which is frightening at a time when vaccination rates are already down in some states. […]

So in addition to the potential fallout for individuals’ health care with changes to Obamacare, we are likely to see public health fallout, too.
But don’t worry, the funding for tax breaks is secure.