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Matsui & Blumenthal Introduce Bicameral Bill to Restore $2 Billion in Annual Public Health Funding Critical to Prevent Future Pandemics

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Today, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) announced the introduction of bicameral legislation to restore full funding to the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF). The PPHF supports vital public health programs, including those to prevent and respond to pandemics like COVID-19, but has never been fully funded.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need to make bold investments in prevention efforts – which means a fully funded and robust Prevention and Public Health Fund,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “Unfortunately, this program has been underfunded for years, limiting our ability to develop and expand innovative public health programs that can help prevent the spread of disease that result in pandemics. This bill will change that – fulfilling our promise to support our federal, state and local partners’ efforts to improve our nation’s preventative health, immunization and public health infrastructure.”

“This bill begins the necessary investment in lifesaving public health programs essential to prevent another pandemic,” said Senator Blumenthal. “Lacking this fund, our public health system was woefully unprepared for the COVID-19 pandemic. This investment will help prepare for future public health threats and combat existing public health crises. We must learn a painful lesson and make public health programs a top national priority.”

The Public Health Funding Prevents Pandemics Act would authorize and appropriate $2 billion in Fiscal Year 2022 and each subsequent fiscal year to fully restore the PPHF. Established as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the PPHF supports vital public health programs, including those involved in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic like the Epidemiology and Lab Capacity program. Under the ACA, funding for the PPHF was supposed to increase over time and reach $2 billion in Fiscal Year 2015. However, the PPHF has been repeatedly cut in lieu of other legislative priorities and has never reached the $2 billion funding level. The lack of appropriated funds has prevented core public health programs from expanding, and prevented the development of new, innovative programs to prepare for and respond to pandemics and other unique public health threats that continue to arise.

On March 3, more than 150 public health organizations sent a letter to Blumenthal and Matsui to express their concerns about the state of public health funding in the United States.

“As public health faces 21st century threats – such as the substance misuse and suicide epidemics, infectious disease outbreaks, and increases in chronic disease rates – resources have not kept pace. The Prevention Fund is far from its original funding level,” wrote the organizations. “The Prevention Fund is a dedicated investment in prevention and public health activities to counteract the much larger bill – $3.2 trillion and growing – we pay every year as a country to treat illness and disease. That is why the Public Health Funding Prevents Pandemics Act is a critical step to increase federal investment in public health programs to prevent injury and illness and reduce our health care costs.”

In the U.S. House of Representatives, the legislation is co-sponsored by Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT), Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH), Nanette Diaz Barragan (D-CA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), and Paul Tonko (D-NY).

In the United States Senate, the legislation is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-PA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV).

The bill is also endorsed by more than 150 public health groups, including Trust for America’s Health, AIDS Institute, American Heart Association, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, and Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

Between Fiscal Year 2010 and Fiscal Year 2019, California received $443,660,426 in funding from the PPHF. Connecticut received $66,299,236. More state figures can be found here.

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