Public health groups ask Gov. Cuomo to preserve public health spending

New York State’s Government Relations Director shared this letter that 16 public health organizations sent to Gov. Cuomo last week. It asks that budget lines for public health programs remain separate, not combined, to better benefit New Yorkers.

Dear Gov. Cuomo,

As organizations committed to encouraging healthier lifestyles and reducing the risks associated with chronic diseases, we respectfully request that the FY 2020-2021 Executive Budget refrain from both combining legislative appropriations for the many important health programs in a pooled appropriation and issuing cuts to the funding. Any reduction in funding to these already underfunded programs would have drastic impacts for the health of New Yorkers. As organizations united to promote and protect the health of communities, we oppose cuts to public health funding in any form.

In recent years past, important health programs benefitting millions of New Yorkers have been either threatened with cuts or held to level funding. Included in this consolidation are programs that reduce the morbidity and mortality of chronic diseases, including funding for the state’s Hypertension Program, Obesity and Diabetes Programs, and Asthma Program. The cuts have also targeted maternal and child health programs, rural Health Networks, workforce programs, adult care facilities and enriched housing programs serving elderly and disabled individuals, Area Health Education Centers which promote primary care and public health careers to students in underserved communities, the Physically Handicapped Children’s program, and community-based programs focused on improving health outcomes.

As a proponent for public health, you know the importance of encouraging healthier lifestyles and supporting prevention and screening to reduce risks of chronic diseases. Chronic diseases—such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke, and asthma — are the leading causes of disability and death in New York State. More than 40% of New York adults suffer from a chronic disease and six out of every 10 deaths in New York State are caused by one of these diseases. New Yorkers cannot afford to live without these vital health programs. Moreover, many of these programs disproportionately impact low income populations. Removing access to vital preventative health services for these communities perpetuates these health disparities. This is unjust.

Many of these state health interventions being considered for consolidation exist to prevent, reduce, or delay much of the chronic disease burden. Others exist to improve the health and wellbeing of New York’s mothers and children. Preventing chronic diseases like heart disease and protecting and promoting the health of pregnant women and babies are smart investments for New York State. Enriched housing programs provide an environment for seniors to stay mobile, active, safe and healthy. Threats to sustainable funding for these programs are not only harmful but are in direct opposition to one of the objectives of the New York State Health Innovation Plan. New York’s commitment to promote health at the community level is directly linked to these programs. It is counterintuitive to reduce funding for efforts that improve health and disease prevention.

There are many other sources for revenue for the state of New York, the budget shortfall should not be resolved on the back of our essential public health infrastructure, primary care to underserved populations, and child and elderly residents of the State. Our respective organizations each ask for the retention of the separate appropriations for the above programs as well as adequate funding so important health interventions can continue in the upcoming year.

The American Heart Association

The County Health Officials of New York

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

The New York State Public Health Association

The Empire State Association of Assisted Living

Bronx Health Reach

The YMCA

Capital Roots

NYS Area Health Education Center System

American Diabetes Association

American Lung Association

Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education and Policy

New York State Association for Rural Health

New York School-Based Health Alliance

The Institute for Family Health

Leading Age New York

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