ACA replacement would cut $1B in public health funds

The ACA replacement plan House Republicans proposed on Monday would eliminate the CDC's Prevention and Public Health Fund, which, under the ACA, receives $1 billion annually from the federal government to protect the public from potential outbreaks and bioterrorism, according to The Washington Post.

In addition to protecting the public from emerging infectious disease, the funds also support preventative health measures like immunization efforts and heart disease screenings. The bill would eliminate the CDC fund in October of 2018 and offers no proposed replacement.

"This is about protecting Americans, so this is about saving lives," said Anne Schuchat, MD, acting CDC director, according to the Post. "An outbreak can happen anywhere. It's not a red- or blue-state kind of thing. And we want to sustain the defense of Americans' health from these new emerging threats."

Tom Frieden, MD, former CDC director, told the Post a loss of these funds would put Americans at greater risk of being sickened by food-borne illness, vaccine-preventable disease and healthcare-associated infections.

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Additionally, local and state health departments would take a hit if the funds are revoked as a majority of the money — $625 million — is filtered down to these departments.

A March 3 letter addressed to President Donald Trump and signed by more than 500 universities, public health organizations and children's advocacy groups warned the president of the potential consequence of eliminating the public health fund. While many public health officials have expressed optimism regarding the fund's possible replacement, GOP leadership has offered few indications of such a scenario, according to the Post.

"We haven't heard that expressed by the leadership either in the House or Senate," said John Auerbach, president and CEO of the Trust for America's Health, the public health organization that led the letter-writing initiative, according to the Post. If the funds are not replaced, Mr. Auerbach said, "We will see the loss of very important services that Americans in every city and town across the country have come to rely upon."

Editor's note: This article was updated on March 10th.

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