Prevention Fund Remains a Target in Revised CHAMPION Act

Earlier this month, Rep. Walden introduced H.R. 3922, the “Community Health and Medical Professionals Improve Our Nation Act of 2017,” or the “CHAMPION Act,” to extend funding for community health centers, the National Health Service Corps, teaching health centers and other primary care programs. While federal funding extensions for these programs are critical, the CHAMPION Act proposed to fund them at the expense of the Prevention and Public Health Fund, the nation’s only dedicated investment in prevention and public health programs. In response, AADR sent a letter to House Energy and Commerce Committee leadership opposing the use of the Prevention Fund as an offset.

The House has now released a revised version of the CHAMPION Act, which folds in reauthorization for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Unfortunately, the Prevention Fund fares worse in the revised legislation, the CHAMPIONING HEALTHY KIDS Act, than in the original version passed by the Energy and Commerce Committee: a proposed $10.5 billion (or 75 percent) cut over the next eight years as opposed to the initial $6.35 billion proposed cut. Importantly, the revised bill would phase the Fund out after two years.

As a reminder, the Prevention Fund accounts for roughly 12 percent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) budget, which includes funding for the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant. Among the grant dollars, nearly $4 million is provided for state oral health programs. The Fund also supports community prevention programs, such as tobacco cessation programs.

UPDATE: On Friday, November 3, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3922 by a vote of 242 to 174. The bill included cutting the Prevention Fund by $6.35 billion, back to the Committee-approved level.

A number of organizations in the health funding community are speaking to members of Congress about the importance of the Prevention Fund, but ultimately, members of Congress want to hear from their constituents — you! We encourage those who support the Prevention Fund to reach out to their elected officials to educate them about the Prevention Fund and the harmful effect these cuts could have on public health, including public health research.

AADR has created an action alert to make contacting your elected officials easy.

Trust for America’s Health has also compiled a number of resources that may be helpful for your outreach:

If you have any questions about the Prevention Fund or about additional ways you can take action, please contact AADR Assistant Director of Government Affairs Lindsey Horan.

AADR Comments on Draft HHS Strategic Plan Call Attention to Oral Research

This week, the American Association for Dental Research (AADR) submitted feedback to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on its draft strategic plan for fiscal years (FY) 2018-2022.

The newest version of the strategic plan takes important steps to achieve its aim to “address complex, multifaceted, and evolving health and human services issues.” Importantly, this included an emphasis on the promotion of evidence-based prevention and practices to achieve better health outcomes – a core component to achieving safer and more efficient, effective and equitable care.

AADR was also pleased, in particular, to see HHS reference oral health throughout its framework. As we think about how best to treat patients and improve health care outcomes, we must ensure that oral health is considered as an integral part of medical and other types of care.

Our comments both commend HHS for its calls to support research, improve access for vulnerable and under-served populations and promote healthy behaviors that have a direct impact on oral health as well as offer suggestions to bring greater representation to oral health issues throughout the plan.

Read AADR’s full comments on the HHS Strategic Plan FY 2018-2022 here.

Status Update: Fiscal Year 2018 Appropriations

Under regular order in the annual budget and appropriations process, the president would release the president’s budget submission in February and Congress would complete its budget resolution, which sets the top-line budget totals and divides spending into categories, by mid-April. However, as we have seen over the past several years, ‘regular order’ has become more of the exception than the rule as continuing resolutions (CRs) are passed to keep the government afloat (until budget deals can be reached), and appropriations deadlines are continually pushed back.

In this year’s case, the public didn’t see movement with respect to fiscal year 2018 budget resolutions until the House Budget Committee unveiled its budget blueprint in July and the Senate Budget Committee unveiled its version late last month. Among the biggest takeaways in both the House and Senate versions are the cuts to non-defense spending, which covers everything outside of the defense portfolio, including scientific research, education, etc.:

“The Senate’s resolution keeps defense spending at the budget cap levels outlined by the Budget Control Act. It hacks away at non-defense spending starting in 2019, cutting it by as much as $106 billion by 2027. The House, on the other hand, cuts into non-defense spending right away, but includes a $70 billion increase in defense spending in 2018 alone” (The Hill).

The full House narrowly passed its $4.1 trillion budget resolution last Thursday, October 5, creating a pathway through which members could pass tax reform via the budget reconciliation process. The full Senate is expected to consider its budget resolution in mid-October.

Drilling down further into fiscal 2018 spending, the House and Senate are also working to finalize their respective spending bills, including appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS). The House, which in mid-September voted along party lines to approve a package of 12 spending bills, is farther ahead in the process than the Senate, whose Labor-HHS bill for fiscal 2018 was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee just last month.

Relevant for AADR members, the House and Senate bills call for a $1.1 and $2 billion increase, respectively, for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The two spending bills also call for increases to the budget of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). The House bill provides roughly $432.36 million for NIDCR, and the Senate bill provides just under $439.74 million, compared with the fiscal 2017 level of $425.75 million.

The House and Senate bills will ultimately have to be reconciled, and in anticipation of the end of the fiscal year on September 30, lawmakers voted to extend 2017 spending levels until December 8, 2017 to give them more time to reach an agreement. However, it is not clear whether Congress and the White House will be able to make a deal by that time.

AADR will continue to keep its members apprised of the budget process and how developments unfold in the weeks to come.

Fiscal Year 2018 Resources:

AADR sends letter to House leadership opposing CHAMPION Act’s reliance on Prevention Fund dollars

The American Association for Dental Research (AADR) this week sent a letter to House Energy and Commerce Committee leadership expressing AADR’s opposition to using money from the Prevention and Public Health Fund (Prevention Fund) as an offset to pay for the Community Health and Medical Professionals Improve our Nation Act of 2017, or CHAMPION Act.

The CHAMPION Act, proposed by Representative Greg Walden (R-OR), calls for critical federal funding extensions for programs such as Community Health Centers and the National Health Service Corps. While it is critical that Congress fund these programs, the CHAMPION Act proposes to do so at the expense of the Prevention Fund (specifically by cutting $6.35 billion from the Fund over the next eight years) and the agencies and essential public health programs it supports. The Prevention Fund, as the nation’s only dedicated investment in prevention and public health programs, works in concert with the programs included in the CHAMPION Act to collectively improve the health of all Americans.

In addition to the Prevention Fund’s roles in supporting community prevention programs, such as tobacco cessation programs, and expanding public health research and tracking efforts, it also accounts for roughly 12 percent of the budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including funding for the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant. This program provides nearly $4 million for state oral health programs and plays a key role in supporting preventive dental care.

Therefore, AADR asked that while policymakers work to extend funding for these primary care programs that they find solutions that do not cut or divert current or future funding allocations from the Prevention Fund. As AADR noted in its letter, “The Prevention Fund and its initiatives would benefit these programs, resulting in better care at the state level and healthier families across the nation.”

Read AADR’s letter here.