Magazine article The Nation's Health

Federal Funding Cuts Harming Public Health Services Nationwide: APHA Survey Finds Budget Cuts Being Felt

Magazine article The Nation's Health

Federal Funding Cuts Harming Public Health Services Nationwide: APHA Survey Finds Budget Cuts Being Felt

Article excerpt

Cuts to federal public health funding are hurting public health programs across the country, leading to cutbacks in services and staff, an informal APHA survey has found.

Funding cuts to agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Health Resources Services Administration are harming public health programs and departments that receive funding through the agencies, according to the ongoing online survey, launched by APHA in April.

Survey respondents reported that they've lost staff, cut back on research, scaled back community outreach and reduced public health services. As of late August, about 300 people had taken the survey, including health workers in state and local health departments, non-profit organizations and clinics.

About 30 percent of survey respondents said their organization has seen a "significant" reduction in federal funding between 2005 and 2007. About 35 percent said their funding has been cut "slightly" and 23 percent said their budgets were endangered for 2007. Respondents said they received funding from a range of federal agencies, including CDC, HRSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Environmental Protection Agency.

In response to the cuts, many survey participants said they were seeking alternative sources of funding, such as grants and foundations. However, cuts to services and programs were prevalent. More than 40 percent of respondents said they had to cut back on public health services because of the budget cuts. In particular, survey participants said they'd reduced injury prevention and immunization programs, eliminated screenings for heart disease and diabetes, cut HIV education in prisons, and ended lead poisoning prevention.

The budget cuts have also been hard on health staff, translating to layoffs, hiring freezes, lowered wages and reduced training for workers, which is making it difficult for organizations to recruit and retain staff, the survey found. …

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