By Hope O'Brien (Tuesday, Feb 15, 2011)
Yesterday, the Obama administration released a ten-year budget plan. Despite numerous cuts, the President’s FY2012 budget proposes an increase in Global Health and Child Survival allocations of $887 million, a 10% increase over the President’s FY2011 request. How will Congress respond? Please call your Senators and Representatives and urge them to support funding for health.
In January, I asked you to call your Senator to urge them to support funding for health programs. The House of Representatives had approved a resolution to reduce non-security spending to 2008 levels, which would undermine progress towards better health outcomes – both domestically and globally. The federal budget is currently running on a Continuing Resolution that expires March 4, 2011. If the Senate fails to sustain or increase funding, this will have a direct impact on health outcomes in 2011 and for years to come. On Friday night, House republicans revealed a spending plan for the next seven months that contains that “largest spending cut in modern history,” according to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va, despite continued needs.
Since the House and the Senate are making budget decisions about both this fiscal year right now, and very soon will make decisions about the next fiscal year, PHR asks you to give your member of Congress a clear message: Don’t cut health funding.
Dramatic cuts in health care funding are dangerously short-sighted. I suspect that Bill Gates agrees with me. He appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart recently and mentioned the importance of continued funding for health interventions:
The US government has been very generous, over a billion to (polio eradication). They’ve been the most generous government…. So I’m a little concerned. I hope the US government, even with all the challenges, wants to see the polio campaign through….
It’s in the foreign aid budget… We hope it doesn’t get cut. There’s a lot of things that help children. The UK government actually kept their humanitarian stuff even as they were balancing their budget, and I hope to make the case that we should do the same….
You want to have aid that, at the end of the day, people feel helped them. Helped them with their childhood health, or disease. That’s the stuff I think has the best chance of showing people we’re very generous. You know, we want to help. Some aid can backfire.
In other words, when done right, humanitarian aid can be an effective investment in global health diplomacy.
You can view the interview here.
Please call your Senators and Representatives this week to urge sustained funding for domestic and global health programs. Remind them that these cuts will not adequately address the federal deficit. For example, foreign aid is a very small fraction of the US budget. The International Affairs budget makes up about 1% of the overall federal budget, yet was able to fund the treatment of AIDS, TB, and malaria for millions of people. This investment is humanitarian, diplomatic, and economically sound, as it allows people to continue working and reduces the likelihood of transmission, and hence avoids increased health care costs. Also – as Bill Gates points out – these investments can be very effective “global health diplomacy.”
When you call, address these points:
- I am a health professional (student) in your state and a member of Physicians for Human Rights.
- Sustain or expand funding for global and domestic health because it’s a smart investment. When it comes to health, short-term funding cuts will have long-term repercussions.
- The right to health implies that health care must be affordable, accessible, acceptable, and of good quality. My hospital can’t do this if it can’t pay its bills.
- Funding health is a cost-effective investment. We can’t neglect global or domestic health without serious consequences. On the other hand, cutting these programs will not balance the budget or substantially reduce the deficit.
Please report your call here.