By Kathryn Mayer
The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials says they are “deeply disappointed” by the $5 billion cut to the Prevention and Public Health Fund that was made in order to partially pay for extending unemployment benefits and fixing Medicare
’s sustainable growth rate.
“While we recognize the importance of these policies, unless we control the costs of health care through proven public health prevention programs, which result in a healthier and more productive work force, we will not lessen the burden of health care costs on our nation’s economy,” the association says.
ASTHO Executive Director Paul Jarris says they will continue to work with Congress and the administration to “stress the importance of supporting public health prevention programs that will improve the health of our population, save lives, lead to a more productive economy, and reduce federal and private health care expenditures.”
The association says prevention programs
are imperative to controlling the exploding growth in health care treatment costs—including those to Medicaid, Medicare and private health insurance. For every dollar spent on childhood immunizations, Americans save $16 in costs to treat preventable illness. For every dollar spent on preconception care programs for women with diabetes, Americans save $5.19 by preventing costly complications for mothers and their babies, ASTHO says.
Yet, of the more than $1.7 trillion in health care spent nationally every year, less than four cents out of every dollar are spent on prevention and public health.
Federal investment from the Prevention and Public Health Fund has helped states initiate programs intended to improve the health of its citizens, including immunization programs, tobacco cessation programs, and community disease prevention and health promotion. States also use Prevention Funds to improve laboratory capabilities to track and respond rapidly to infectious disease outbreaks, foodborne illnesses, and health care-related infections.
“State budgets have not recovered from the recession; they will not be able to replace this funding. Already since 2008, more than 50,000 state and local public health jobs have been lost—that's 22 percent of local public health jobs and 16 percent of the state public health work force,” the ASTHO says.
“There is no more efficiency to be wrung from the public health system. State health agencies will be forced into no-win decisions about which programs to eliminate and which constituencies can no longer be served. The cuts to the Prevention Fund ensure all Americans lose.”
Originally published on BenefitsPro.com