The American Public Health Association has issued a press release opposing the repeal of the individual mandate and proposals to cut the Prevention and Public Health Fund included in Congressional tax legislation. The full text of the release follows
APHA opposes repeal of individual mandate, planned elimination of billions in public health spending in tax legislation
Statement from Georges C. Benjamin, MD, executive director, American Public Health Association
Washington, D.C., November 15, 2017 – “The public health community strongly opposes efforts to weaken the Affordable Care Act by including a repeal of the individual mandate in the Senate’s latest tax legislation. Instead, we urge Congress to continue bipartisan efforts to improve and build upon the successes of the ACA, and expand access to health insurance for the more than 28 million who still lack coverage.
“The individual mandate is central to reducing the number of uninsured Americans, controlling health care costs for everyone and ensuring the availability of affordable health insurance coverage. Repealing the individual mandate will only undermine our progress in creating a healthier nation.
“We are also deeply concerned by the significant deficits written in to this tax legislation. Due to existing budget laws, the deficit created by this tax plan as drafted would trigger automatic spending cuts that would lead to the complete elimination of the Prevention and Public Health Fund and other mandatory spending over the next ten years. The fund currently makes up 12 percent of the entire Centers for Disease Control and Prevention budget, and its elimination would be a disaster for the public’s health and innovative programs across the country that address critical health issues like obesity and opioid addiction. The proposals also put nondefense discretionary funding at risk of significant cuts in future deficit reduction proposals as we have seen in the past.
“The Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation estimate that repealing the mandate would cause the number of people with health insurance to decrease by 13 million in 2027. They also estimate that average premiums would increase by about 10 percent in most years of the next decade.
“Any changes made to existing health care laws should increase the number of insured individuals and lower costs for Americans buying insurance. A repeal of the individual mandate and cuts to federal public health funds would achieve none of this, and undo the progress we’ve made over the last decade in improving our nation’s health.
“I urge our leaders to focus their efforts on improving public health rather than continuing this partisan vendetta against the ACA and federal health programs that keep our nation safe and strong.”