Take Action to Raise Awareness of Emergency Preparedness Program Cuts

By Eli Briggs, Director, Governmental Affairs, NACCHO

US CapitolHow will your community be affected by cuts to federal preparedness funding? What vital services will be lost without federal support? Who in your community is most likely to be at-risk if services are no longer available? Why is federal support crucial to maintaining preparedness programs at your local health department? Members of Congress need to hear the answers to these types of questions to learn how the communities they represent are directly impacted by decreases in preparedness funding. As part of NACCHO’s mission to be a voice for local health departments, we provide our members with tools and resources to advocate on behalf of their communities. With federal funding cuts to the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) administered by the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s important to take action now to bring attention to the potential consequences of these cuts at the local level.

Through PHEP, funding is awarded to 50 state, eight U.S. territory and four metropolitan health departments to bolster their ability to effectively respond to emergencies including terrorist attacks, infectious disease outbreaks, natural disasters, and biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological incidents. HPP funding allows local health departments to partner with hospitals and other providers to ensure that the healthcare system at the community level is prepared to respond to any emergency. In the current fiscal year (FY2014) the amount for HPP grants will be nearly one-third less than last year. President Obama released his budget proposal on March 4, suggesting the continuation of the HPP cuts into FY2015 and further cuts in PHEP. To learn more about the President’s budget and the Congressional appropriations process, view a recording of NACCHO’s March 19 webinar.

Despite some gains in state and local government budgets, local health departments continue to struggle with the effects of the economic recession. As reported in NACCHO’s 2013 National Profile of Local Health Departments, funding for emergency preparedness has dropped significantly, from $2.07 per capita in 2010 to $1.15 per capita in 2013. NACCHO surveys on budget cuts since 2009 have consistently found that emergency preparedness services are one of the most frequently reduced programs at local health departments. Federal funding for PHEP has been cut by more than 30 percent since FY2007. More than 55 percent of local health departments rely solely on federal funding for emergency preparedness activities.

The next few weeks are critical as members of Congress are developing their individual priority lists to submit to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. This spring, Congress will consider the President’s budget proposal and make decisions about what to fund in FY2015, which starts October 1. Now is the time for NACCHO members to communicate with members of Congress and their staff about the importance of these programs and what these cuts mean in your community. NACCHO’s Legislative Action Center makes it easy, providing talking points, sample letters and contact information for members of Congress. When communicating with members of Congress and staff, it is important to make the link from these federal programs to the impact on the community. Consider some of the questions mentioned above when making the case for federal support for your community. Personal stories and testimonials that demonstrate the impact of preparedness work in your community may also resonate with members of Congress. NACCHO’s Stories from the Field website offers tips for writing stories that are dynamic and memorable.

Read more about federal funding cuts:

Please contact Eli Briggs, NACCHO’s Government Affairs Director, with any questions.

About Eli Briggs
Eli Briggs has worked on NACCHO’s Government Affairs team since 2006. Her areas of focus include budget and appropriations; community health; food safety; chronic disease and environmental health. Twitter: @elibriggs



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