Healthcare 2003 Budget The Same As 2015 Budget: Ebola’s A Wake-Up Call
Ebola is showing us how Washington’s disease prevention cuts were just too much: 70 percent plus of healthcare spending is “used for preventable diseases.” We have been in a rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul downward spiral for close to a decade and a half. And in this midterm season, campaigns are naturally working to make political hay out of the global Ebola crisis. But whose fault is it?
Just like every other cost, health care spending costs are up across the nation. And we cannot keep lowering what we pay everyone from physicians to physical therapists. It puts them in an impossible situation.
Director of the CDC Tom Frieden says,
“We are not suffering from a scarcity of complexity.”
The Campaign For Public Health (CPH) Foundation compared the CDC budgets from 2013 to past CDC budgets. This is its finding: the Obama administration has tried to freeze its CDC budget to get the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through Congress:
- The CDC’s overall core budget has remained stagnant, funded at nearly the same level in FY2012 as it was in 2003.
- To make matters worse, President Obama’s FY13 proposal would cut the nation’s prevention-focused agency, in real dollar terms, below 2003 funding levels next year.
- Also, despite large investments in bioterrorism preparedness since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, inflation has cut those gains to the CDC’s core budget in half today. Those gains would be erased entirely if the Administration’s plan is enacted.
The Prevention and Public Health Fund was an attempt to get out in front of diseases liked Ebola. But $5 billion of the fund was used to make certain those physicians’ who treat Medicare patients pay wasn’t cut. So the states’ great-experiment-mentality of the mandatory funding projects such as vaccination (VFC) for children and more recently Medicare, mean the money goes from CDC to the state. And we trust the money-hungry states? That wouldn’t be wise. Already States “have cut an additional 50,000 health department jobs nationwide.”
A member of Congress asked about cuts to HHS. Then HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said,
“(Prevention) services will go on, we just don’t need the money through CDC.”
Cutting a billion dollars from a “core budget” that is “about $6.5 billion is a huge cut. Low-balling healthcare budgets of CDC, NIH and HRSA in order to ease the rolling out of the ACA (Affordable Care Act) is the Democrats’ responsibility. It also shows us what automatic cuts – or sequestration – could do to further erode the nation’s disease control and prevention infrastructure.
Not only did the Republicans like the cuts, they wanted more “wasteful cuts.” They voted over 50 times to defund the ACA. If they had succeeded an additional 15 percent cut would have been catastrophic.
We expect the country to be ready for Ebola-type threats, that Washington is protecting us, but if our healthcare systems were like the air transportation system, this is what we would see:
“It is possible that this flight was rushed through its safety check, that the airline cut back maintenance staff to save money, and that the wing is falling off right now. Still, we are flying because we trust a system is there to prevent that from happening. Really, we have no idea if the airline is cutting costs, if they fired the ground crew last week, or if the person at the helm just flew from China and is utterly exhausted. More to your point – we have never sent a letter to Congress asking them to fully fund air safety even though we both fly regularly and our lives depend on this system we think is in place.”
Instead of offering milquetoast fixes, we need a President who will demand a better healthcare system – now and in the future. And we should hold Congress’ feet to the fire to support the President.
For additional information regarding the CDC cuts to pre-Obama levels click here.