Zoë Schlanger | Quartz | January 17, 2017 | 0 Comments

Getting Rid of Obamacare Will Cripple the Department Keeping Bioterrorism and Outbreaks at Bay

A microbiologist works with tubes of bacteria samples in an antimicrobial resistance and characterization lab within the Infectious Disease Laboratory at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. David Goldman/AP

It’s not just about doctor’s visits and medications. If the Affordable Care Act is repealed, a pot of money used to prevent bioterrorism attacks and prevent disease outbreaks may go down with it.

The Prevention and Public Health Fund, part of Obamacare, allocates $890 million to the US Centers for Disease Control to create better infrastructure for identifying disease outbreaks before they happen, and addressing them before they spread, a new report from public health advocacy group Trust for America’s Health points out. For example, the Prevention Fund dedicated $210 million to the CDC’s immunization program in 2015.

For an already chronicallyunderfunded agency that has handled 750 outbreaks in the last two years alone, missing nearly a billion dollars will likely take its toll.The Prevention Fund represents about 12 percent of the CDC’s budget, which totaled roughly $7 billion in 2016. The Department of Agriculture’s 2016 budget, for comparison, was about $25 billion.

It’s not just the CDC that will suffer. Another $3 billion is allocated through the Prevention Fund to support state health agencies that deal in community-level disease prevention, bioterrorism prevention, pandemic response, and responding to other health emergencies, according to the Trust for America’s Health report. A quick search on an online database of its grants shows that the Prevention Fund puts money towards everything from discovering new vaccines for infectious diseases, to improving existing vaccines, like those for the common flu.

State-level Prevention Fund programs also include:

And suppressing the spread of many, many other conditions. In a world where 86% of health care costs are spent on chronic diseases, many of which can be avoided when the right measures are taken, funding prevention looks an awfully lot like the fiscally conservative route.

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