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March 2011

House Aims to Shrink Mandatory Funding Streams from Health Reform

The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee held a hearing on March 9 focused on mandatory funding enacted as part of the health reform law, including the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF). Republican members of the subcommittee objected to what they called the administration's attempt to "bypass the appropriations process." The health reform law gives equal authority to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and Congress to appropriate funds from the PPHF. However, because Congress has failed to pass an appropriations bill for Health and Human Services since the health reform law was enacted, the President has allocated funds from the PPHF in Fiscal Year (FY) 10 and Fiscal Year (FY) 11.

House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA) intends to introduce legislation soon that will convert the status of the Prevention and Public Health Fund and other mandatory funding streams to discretionary spending. NACCHO continues to work to highlight the importance of the PPHF to support local health departments in improving the health of Americans across the country. NACCHO's Legislative Action Center provides talking points and contact information for communicating with your Members of Congress the importance of continuing funding for prevention and public health:

Government Funding Stalemate Continues

On March 18, President Obama signed a short-term funding resolution lasting three weeks to fund the government through April 8. The measure contains spending cuts of $2 billion per week, for a total of $6 billion in cuts. The new measure rescinds $276 million in "no-year" pandemic influenza funding, while continuing approximately $65 million in annual flu funding. There are no other cuts to Health and Human Services programs.

Agreement between the House, Senate and the White House will be necessary in order to complete a funding bill for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends September 30. The House of Representatives is also turning its attention to Fiscal Year (FY)12 funding, with a non-binding budget resolution expected from Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) in April. The House budget resolution is expected to contain some adjustment to entitlements as well as continued cuts in discretionary spending.

NACCHO and SACCHO Leaders on Capitol Hill

On March 16, nearly 50 NACCHO leaders, staff and Executive Directors from State Associations of County and City Health Officials met in Washington, D.C. with Congressional staff representing their jurisdictions and states. These meetings are an important step in building support for local health departments and public health in an environment where continuing challenges to federal spending for public health are expected.

This spring, NACCHO Government Affairs staff will continue to provide information about opportunities for advocacy with elected Members of Congress on important public health issues. NACCHO's Congressional Action Network has grown to more than 350 members. This network of local health department officials and staff receives technical assistance and training from NACCHO Government Affairs staff and targeted alerts when outreach is needed to policymakers on Capitol Hill. Sign up today:

New NACCHO Director of Government Affairs

Laura Hanen, MPP started in March as NACCHO's new Director of Government Affairs. Prior to joining NACCHO, Ms. Hanen was the Director of Government Relations for the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors for more than ten years. Ms. Hanen held leadership roles in a number of national coalitions, including the Federal AIDS Policy Partnership, the HIV Health Care Access Working Group, the AIDS Drug Assistance Program Working Group, and the Hepatitis Appropriations Partnership. Ms. Hanen also served as the Senior Lobbyist for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and a legislative assistant for Representative Rick Boucher of the Ninth District of Virginia. Ms. Hanen can be reached at; 202-507-4255.