Harkin Protests Potential Cuts to Prevention and Public Health Fund

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The “super-committee” charged by President Obama with slashing $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion from the U.S. budget deficit over the next 10 years should not accomplish part of this task by cutting $3.5 billion from the $15 billion Prevention and Public Health Fund.

That is the perspective expressed in a letter sent to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS).

As reported today in the Healthwatch blog of The Hill (a newspaper that covers developments on Capital Hill), Harkin, in writing the letter, “defied” and is now “pitted” against President Obama, who during the healthcare debate in September issued the recommendation that the Fund be slashed. Harkin consistently championed it throughout the course of the debate proceedings.

Within the context of the October 6 letter, Harkin strongly urges the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction “not to target programs that serve as the foundation for…historic reforms, like the Prevention Fund, funding for states to build insurance exchanges, or cost sharing subsidies that allow the previously uninsured to purchase affordable coverage.”

Harkin also points out that “according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Affordable Care Act will reduce the federal budget deficit by over $210 billion over the next 10 years and by more than $1 trillion in the 10 years after that.” He deems now “not the time to dismantle this historic law by denying critical resources to…fledgling, but critical reforms that will save the nation in the long term.”

House and Senate committees must convey their priorities to the super-committee by Friday.

To read the letter, click here: http://thehill.com/images/stories/blogs/healthwatch/superharkin.pdf