A couple weeks ago, President Obama proposed $3.5 billion in cuts to the federal Prevention and Public Health Fund as part of the President’s Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction.
And as the Prevention Institute alerted me to via e-mail, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill on September 21st that “zeroed out funding for the CDC’s Youth Violence Prevention activities – suddenly and without input”.
The e-mail I received pointed out that elimination of this $19.7 million in funding would have a devastating impact on violence prevention efforts across the country and compromises decades of work.
I agree wholeheartedly. Even more frustrating though, is the fact that not only do these cuts to prevention and public health funding affect critical work, they go against the very purpose of these funding cuts, i.e. “economic growth and deficit reduction.”
Cutting prevention funding does NOT help the economy or the deficit. Whether it’s the Prevention and Public Health Fund, CDC’s Youth Violence Prevention efforts, or other funding streams, public health takes a systems level, upstream approach to preventing population-level health problems – this means a lot of public health efforts are targeted at things like helping people find jobs or gain a better education, and making neighborhoods safer and revitalizing communities. These things make our economic situation better, not worse.
“Cutting prevention may seem to save a few dollars in the short run, but it will cost an enormous number of lives and money in the long run…Prevention shows a 5-to-1 return on investment. Cutting 3.5 billion in prevention would shut the door to as much as $20 billion in potential savings in health care costs in the future.”
And there are a lot of other cost savings too – keeping youth out of the criminal justice system, keeping community members gainfully employed, and more.
I understand that cuts need to be made, but let’s stay away from cutting things that are actually saving us money, shall we?
Pick up the phone, call your senators and representatives (I just did!), and try to make it to clear to politicians and the general public that prevention funding is not merely an expendable cost, but an investment – and one that is far more likely to pay off than pretty much any other.