Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Decider Decides to Screw You Yet Again

On the day when Scooter takes the fall for his boss, a day when the legacy of their lies is one very grim day in Iraq, I'm going to stick to the knitting. All of this, along with the scandal-we've-actually-known-about-for-years-
but-are-only-suddenly-worrying-about-now over the abandonment of troops wounded in Iraq; the daily good news/bad news of the yo-yoing stock market; and, most important of all, Britney shaving her head and Ana Nicole still being dead have made it impossible for the newspapers and teevee to tell you much of anything about the Administration's budget proposals. So let's take a look, shall we?

The American Public Health Association summarizes the damage to public health in this press release. The budget was actually released one month ago, Feb. 5. Does anybody remember that? The Decider wants to knock $162 million bucks out of CDC. That's a lot of dough -- enough to keep the Iraq war going for 12 hours. The purpose of invading Iraq, as I understand it, was to keep us safe from those Weapons of Mass Destruction™. Well, while the CDC budget does include an increase for pandemic flu preparedness, it completely eliminates the Preventive Health Services Block Grants to the states, which the states use to meet their most pressing needs. The budget also knocks out anti-obesity programs, cuts preparedness grants to the states, and takes $143 million from childhood immunization programs.

The Health Resources and Services Administration gets cuts to rural health programs and workforce development; and an increase in Ryan White CARE Act funds, but one that's well short of meeting growing demand as more and more people are living with HIV.

According to Kim Krisberg writing in APHA's member newsletter, CDC's budget request notes increased funding since 2002 to address the threat of terrorism, but level funding for chronic disease prevention even as chronic diseases continue to affect more and more people. CDC Director Julie Gerberding told an APHA-sponsored meeting on Feb. 7, in Krisberg's words, that "core funding for infectious disease science is being eroded. CDC is facing a number of new and old health threats, but federal funding isn't coinciding with the expectations being put on the agency" -- except, of course, for increases in "emergency" funding (read "terrorism" preparedness).

Let's be clear here folks. If Al Qaeda suddenly started mounting successful Sept. 11 scale attacks every month from now until Christmas, they would end up killing less than 5% of the Americans who will die in that time from heart disease; a little over 5% of the number who will die from cancer; just 1/5 the number who will die from strokes; fewer than half the number who will die from diabetes; and here's a good one, less than 1/3 the number who will die from accidents. (We aren't supposed to use the word "accidents" in public health but you know what I mean -- everything from wrapping the Porsche turbo Carrera around a tree to slipping in the bathtub.)

So how about it, Dems in Congress -- will you keep us safe?

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