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How will CDC cuts affect health programs abroad and at home?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recently lost hundreds of millions of dollars in funding cuts, including a $750 million cut in December. On Friday, President Trump signed a bill that slashed $1.35 billion from its Prevention and Public Health Fund over the next 10 years. Ashley Yeager, associate editor at The Scientist, joins Hari Sreenivasan from Raleigh, North Carolina.

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  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    When it comes to keeping America healthy prevention is often the best medicine. But hundreds of millions of dollars are being funneled away from the Centers for Disease Control Prevention and Public Health Fund. December’s tax reform law stripped $750 million dollars from the program, moving that money to the childhood Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, instead. And this week, President Trump signed a bill cutting $1.35 billion from the PPHF over the next 10 years. In addition, funding is not being renewed for global health initiatives which monitor outbreaks overseas, including Ebola. So where does the CDC go from here? Yesterday, I spoke with Ashley Yaeger, an associate editor with The Scientist who has been covering the story.

    Tell us what is the PPHF? what does it do?

  • ASHLEY YEAGER:

    It’s a program to promote public health and also keep public and private healthcare costs from rising.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    OK. And what kind of programs does it support now that we might not be aware of?

  • ASHLEY YEAGER:

    Well one of the biggest is actually immunizations, trying to create infrastructure and access to shots and vaccinations for many more people, children included, across the country, and also looking at diseases and other health issues that can be prevented things like obesity looking at tobacco use. All of these are things that if we spend a little effort and time and money trying to prevent, we can save long term costs down the road.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    This is in the middle of, you know, one of the worst flu epidemics that we’ve had, people certainly are conscious of vaccinations. Tell us a little bit about the global health initiatives and specifically you know when we tackled Ebola, what was the infrastructure that we had in place and what’s in danger now?

  • ASHLEY YEAGER:

    Right. So in terms of tackling Ebola, there was a supplemental aid package that was passed to try to help build infrastructure in countries to tamp down the outbreak and actually prevent future outbreaks. And so now, what’s happening with cutting that funding, is that it’s actually creating more of a risk in the future. If there’s another outbreak that we don’t have that infrastructure to prevent the outbreak from spreading.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Put this in perspective, if the PPHF goes away. How much of the overall CDC budget is it?

  • ASHLEY YEAGER:

    It’s 12 percent of the CDC budget. So in terms of the fund itself I think in 2017 the fund was allocated about $931 million and about $891 million of that went to the CDC for preventive programs.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    And is there any measure that Congress can take to try to roll any of this back or fight for some of these funds to be reappropriated?

  • ASHLEY YEAGER:

    Someone mentioned to me a discretionary funding so that might be one place to look. But the this particular fund has been a target for a long time. So it’s not clear how it will fare going forward.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    All right, Ashley Yeager, associate editor of The Scientist joining us from Raleigh, North Carolina. Thanks so much.

  • ASHLEY YAEGER:

    Thank you so much.

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