June 27, 2017
Minnesota Health Commissioner Statement on U.S. Senate Health Care Legislation
Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger issued the following statement today regarding the health care legislation proposed this week by Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate.
It is alarming to see Senate Republicans propose legislation that, like the U.S. House companion, would leave an additional 22 million Americans uninsured within 10 years and would repeal core public health funding that protects Minnesotans from infectious diseases and other potentially deadly health risks.
The Senate’s new health care bill would immediately eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund. This fund has been a major funding mechanism for vital public health activities around the country that pre-dated both President Obama and the Affordable Care Act.
Last year, the Minnesota Department of Health received $13.8 million from this fund. Among other important activities, we use this funding to purchase supplies used by our scientists to test for deadly diseases, support computer systems that ensure children are properly immunized, and provide financial support to rural counties and non-profit organizations around the state. Many of these activities receive little or no state funding. Eliminating this funding is particularly irresponsible now since 2017 has been one of the worst years for infectious disease in recent time – with serious outbreaks of measles, drug resistant tuberculosis and syphilis in multiple regions.
If Congress repeals the Prevention and Public Health Fund along with the rest of the Affordable Care Act while failing to provide alternative funding for public health, it will leave us all more vulnerable to the next state, national or global epidemic. It also will weaken our ability to address leading causes of sickness and death in Greater Minnesota such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Congress should recognize the importance of these public health protection activities and find a way to fund them either through a reinstatement of the Prevention and Public Health Fund or alternative sources. I respectfully call upon Minnesota’s congressional delegation to take action to protect the public health services that protect Minnesotans in every part of the state.