Advancing toward their goal of breaking apart the healthcare reform law, House Republicans scored another victory Wednesday when the lower chamber voted to repeal the act's prevention and public-health fund.
House votes to repeal public-health fund
In a 236-183 vote, the House repealed the fund that grants full authority to the HHS secretary to administer $17.75 billion in funding from fiscal 2012 to 2021. Earlier Tuesday on the House floor, House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-Pa.)—who introduced the bill—said "Every member who supports this fund should know nobody knows where this money will be spent."
The measure received broad support from Republicans, and also from four Democrats: Reps. Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania, Dan Boren of Oklahoma, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina and Collin Peterson of Minnesota.
“The program grants the secretary of Health and Human Services unchecked authority to spend billions of taxpayer dollars on any so-called 'public-health' program without any further congressional action,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said in a statement in which he praised the bill's passage. “These funds could be used to continue wasteful and duplicative programs that fail to actually improve healthcare for Americans. By repealing this fund, we ensure that public-health programs of highest priority will continue to be supported by Congress.”
Meanwhile, the White House indicated it strong opposition to repealing the fund. “If the president is presented with legislation that would eliminate funding or repeal the prevention and public-health fund, his senior advisers would recommend that he veto it,” the White House said in the administration's statement of policy from the Office of Management and Budget.
The American Public Health Association issued a statement saying that sustained federal investment in prevention will yield returns both in lives saved and reductions in healthcare spending. “APHA praises the president for reaffirming his commitment to prevention by supporting the Prevention and Public Health Fund and indicating his intent to veto the measure should it arrive on his desk,” the association said in a statement.
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