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House bill cuts ObamaCare public health fund by $2.85 billion

House bill cuts ObamaCare public health fund by $2.85 billion
© Greg Nash

The House’s short-term bill to fund the government cuts $2.85 billion over 10 years from an ObamaCare public health fund, using the money to help pay for a range of health-care programs.

The cut is drawing criticism from public health groups who warn that it will harm work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in areas like vaccination and anti-smoking.

The fund, scheduled to spend roughly $10 billion over 10 years, has been a favorite target for offsets for other spending in recent years. Democrats agreed to cut the fund in 2016 as part of the 21st Century Cures Act boosting medical research.

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The cut in the funding bill being voted on in the House Tuesday comes as part of a range of offsets to pay for an extension of various expiring health-care programs and funding for community health centers.

“The Prevention Fund makes up 12 percent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s budget and supports key public health activities like childhood lead poisoning prevention, vaccination, smoking cessation and other programs in all 50 states,” said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. “Eliminating the fund will put these critical public health programs and the people they serve at risk.”

The group is also concerned that the short-term funding bill would essentially eliminate the public health fund entirely beginning in 2028.

“We are using Prevention and Public Health Fund dollars for prevention and public health efforts — like the special diabetes programs and community health centers,” a spokesperson for Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans said.

The spokesperson added that the cuts would be preventing planned increases in the fund in the future, not cutting the fund below its current level of around $1 billion per year.