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Over 170 Groups Urge Bill Conferees to Include 'Double Duty' Public Health Funds in Stimulus for Jobs and Health Care Savings

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 170 public health organizations issued a letter today to Congressional Conferees urging them to maintain the House-passed level of funding for prevention and wellness programs in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009. The final U.S. Senate version of the bill removed all funding for these programs.

The funding in the House stimulus could directly save or create more than 20,000 public health jobs. As states, local governments, and communities are hit with economic hard times, they have already laid off more than 11,000 public health workers and left over 10,000 jobs vacant, and at least as many layoffs are expected in the coming year. In addition, by funding the expansion of targeted, effective community-based disease prevention programs, additional new jobs will be created directly in the communities they are serving. The funding would support existing programs, where mechanisms are in place to get the money out quickly so it can have an immediate impact on the economy.

"Thousands of public health jobs hang in the balance," said Jeff Levi, Ph.D., Executive Director of Trust for America's Health (TFAH). "These public health workers are the ones we rely on to hold the community health safety net in place as the number of unemployed, uninsured, and underinsured Americans is growing by the day."

"We should also remember that the funding for public health goes way beyond protecting and creating jobs. It's also a down payment toward reducing health care costs over the long term, keeping Americans healthier and more productive. Containing health care costs is one of the most important factors for improving the U.S. economy. Supporting prevention and wellness is one of the smartest investments we could be making, and we hope Congress will do the right thing and maintain this funding in the final bill," Levi continued.

The full text of the letter supported by more than 174 public health groups is below:

February 10, 2009

Dear Conferee:

Our 174 organizations express our gratitude and support for the robust public health provisions included in the House-passed version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and our extreme disappointment over the $5.8 billion in prevention and wellness funding stripped from the Senate bill. We urge you to maintain the House-passed level of $3 billion for prevention and wellness in the final enacted version of the bill.

As you know, the public health system is experiencing severe workforce shortages. State and local health departments lost over 11,000 jobs last year. The Prevention and Wellness Fund included in the House bill would help to restore lost jobs and prevent a projected additional 10,000 job vacancies from occurring next year in health departments.

During an economic downturn, it is important to have a strong safety net to support individuals who are losing their health coverage. As unemployment rates soar, unemployed workers and their families turn to state and local health departments and community-based organizations for basic health services, like immunizations and preventive services that are provided free of charge to those who cannot afford them. Toward that end, we hope that you will consider an investment in wellness and prevention as a means of restoring and creating jobs, as well as offering assistance to struggling families.

The recovery and reinvestment legislation affords the opportunity to stimulate the economy and strengthen our investment in health infrastructure and workforce while building stronger, healthier communities. This investment can also help stave off the onset of many costly chronic diseases and avoid the need for treatment of expensive complications of disease. Controlling health care costs will be critical to getting the country's economy back on track. Fundamental health care reform, particularly reform that focuses on ways to keep Americans healthier, must be part of solving our current financial crisis. Funding for public health and disease prevention in the stimulus bill is a down payment toward reducing health care costs over the long term.

Our nation needs a healthy and productive population to meet the challenges of the future, and rebound from these difficult times. An investment in public health will put us on a preferred path of prevention and wellness. To prevent further job loss in state and local health departments, stimulate job creation in the health field, and fully capitalize on the opportunity to promote health, we ask that you include at least $3 billion for prevention and wellness in the final version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

    Active Transportation Alliance (IL)
    Advocates for Better Children's Diets
    AHIA - NAIFA Health & Employee Benefits
    AIDS Action Council
    ALERT Health, Inc.
    Alzheimer's Foundation of America
    American Council on Exercise
    American School Health Association
    America Walks
    American Academy of Nursing
    American Academy of Pediatrics
    American Academy of Physician Assistants
    American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance
    American Association for Health Education
    American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases
    American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy
    American Association of Occupational Health Nurses
    American Association on Health and Disability
    American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
    American College of Preventive Medicine
    American College of Sports Medicine
    American Diabetes Association
    American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
    American Heart Association
    American Lung Association
    American Occupational Therapy Association
    American Osteopathic Association
    American Psychiatric Association
    American Psychological Association
    American Physical Therapy Association
    American Public Health Association
    American School Health Association
    American Social Health Association
    American Society of Nephrology
    American Thoracic Society
    Amputee Coalition of America
    Arthritis Foundation
    Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association
    Association for Prevention Teaching and Research
    Association of Immunization Managers
    Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs
    Association of Public Health Laboratories
    Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors
    Association of State and Territorial Directors of Nursing
    Association of State and Territorial Health Officials
    Association of University Centers on Disabilities
    Autism Society of America
    Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
    Brain Injury Association of America
    Breathe California
    California Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors
    California Certification Board of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors
    California Foundation for the Advancement of Addiction Professionals
    Campaign for Public Health
    Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
    Campaign to End Obesity
    Center for Biosecurity, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
    Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy
    Center for Science in the Public Interest
    Children's Dental Health Project
    Coalition for Health Services Research
    Coalition for Public Health
    Commissioned Officers Association of the U.S. Public Health Service
    Community Health Councils
    Community Health Partnership: Oregon's Public Health Institute
    Community Partners for Better Health (NV)
    Defeat Diabetes Foundation
    Directors of Health Promotion and Education
    DMAA: The Care Continuum Alliance
    Emergency Nurses Association
    Evergreen State Amateur Athletic Council (WA)
    Every Child By Two
    Faces and Voices of Recovery
    FamilyCook Productions
    Fall Prevention Center of Excellence
    First Focus
    Friends of NCHS
    Friends of SAMHSA
    Fund a Nurse, Inc
    Health Education Network of Delaware
    Healthcare Consortium
    Healthcare Leadership Council
    Healthy Homes Collaborative
    Hep C Connection
    Hepatitis B Foundation
    Hepatitis C Association
    Hepatitis Foundation International
    High Sierra Area Health Education Center
    HIV Medicine Association
    Home Safety Council
    Infectious Diseases Society of America
    Institute of Public Health - Georgia State University
    International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association
    March of Dimes Foundation
    National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors
    National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems
    National Association for Sport and Physical Education
    National Association of Chronic Disease Directors
    National Association of County and City Health Officials
    National Association of Neonatal Nurses
    National Association of People with AIDS
    National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors
    National Association of State EMS Officials
    National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity
    National Coalition of STD Directors
    National Council on Aging
    National Disease Clusters Alliance
    National Environmental Health Association
    National Health Council
    National Hispanic Medical Association
    National Hispanic Health Foundation
    National Kidney Foundation
    National Medical Association
    National Minority AIDS Council
    National Nurses Advisory Council
    National Nursing Centers Consortium
    National Nursing Network Organization
    National PTA
    National REACH Coalition for the Elimination of Health Disparities
    National Recreation and Park Association
    National Sleep Foundation
    National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable
    National WIC Association
    New Mexico Hepatitis C Alliance
    New York State Nutrition Council
    North Shore Health Project (MA)
    Northwest Federation of Community Organizations
    OraSure Technologies
    Partners for a Healthy Nevada
    Partnership for Prevention
    Planned Parenthood Federation of America
    Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc.
    Prevention Institute
    Public Health Foundation
    Public Health Institute
    Public Health-Seattle & King County (WA)
    Red River Democrats
    Researchers against Inactivity-related Disorders
    RWJF Center for Health Policy
    Safe Routes to School National Partnership
    Save the Children
    Seattle Sports Commission
    Service Employees International Union
    Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S.
    Shaping America's Health
    Snohomish Health District
    Society for Advancement of Violence and Injury Control
    Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America
    Society for Public Health Education
    Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association
    State and Territorial Injury Prevention Directors Association
    Strategic Health Policy International, Inc.
    The AIDS Institute
    The Association of Washington Public Hospital Districts
    The Healthcare Consortium, Inc (Hudson, NY)
    The National TB Controllers Association
    The New York Academy of Medicine
    The Seniors Coalition
    The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America
    The YBH Project, Inc.
    Trust for America's Health
    UCHAPS: Urban Coalition for HIV/AIDS Prevention Services
    United Fresh Produce Association
    U.S. PIRG
    Visiting Nurse Associations of America
    Washington Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity
    Washington Health Foundation - Healthiest State in the Nation Campaign
    Women's Sports Foundation
    YMCA of the USA

SOURCE Trust for America's Health
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