Supercommittee members seem poised to vote on a budget bill that includes a proposal to slash the investment in the landmark Prevention and Public Health Fund by half—an $8 billion dollar cut. It is simply unacceptable for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to consider $8 billion in cuts to the Fund.
Investing in prevention does not ask legislators or the public to choose between budget cuts or spending; instead it bends the cost curve, reducing expenditures by reducing need. No one loses when prevention succeeds. We know from experience that investments in lead reduction, vaccination and carseats show solid return on investment. In California, we have cut the number of smokers in half—nationally tobacco cessation efforts could save close to $200 billion a year. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation just released an Urban Institute study that showed that in just ten years, the Prevention Fund could show a yearly savings of $70 billion dollars.
We are deeply disappointed to see those who should be rallying to defend prevention are instead stepping forward to put it on the chopping block. When the prevention funding has come under previous attack as one of the first implemented components of the Affordable Care Act, Democratic legislators have stood as its most stalwart proponents —and they must continue to do so, as it is one of the most broadly supported and cost-effective elements of our health care approach.
Seventy-five percent of the American people back community prevention. Prevention Institute has joined over seven hundred of the nation’s leading public health organizations in signing Trust for America’s Health’s letter backing the Prevention and Public Health Fund. We know that prevention works; now our leaders must be brave enough to stand behind this common sense approach. The message from our local communities is clear: We need more investment in prevention, not less.
Today we sent a letter to the supercommittee members, telling them that prevention funding must be maintained and expanded, not cut. We urge you to read the letter and send a letter of your own in support.