ACP Tells Congress: Spending Cuts Would Hurt Public Health

In a letter to congressional leadership, the American College of Physicians (ACP) said that proposed spending cuts would damage children’s access to health coverage, medical innovation, and public health. The cuts are part of the rescission package that President Trump sent to Congress in early May; the legislation based on the package includes cuts to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), the Nonrecurring Expenses Fund (NEF), and the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Ebola response.

In the letter, ACP detailed objections to each of the categories of cuts. ACP said that cuts to CHIP could disrupt health care coverage for children and cuts to the NEF would potentially disrupt the ability of federal agencies to administer federal health programs or respond to unforeseen contingencies in a timely manner. The letter called attention to another recent outbreak of Ebola in the Congo and said now is not the time to potentially hamper the ability of USAID to respond. The letter also reiterated ACP’s strong support for CMMI’s mission to test and expand innovative models of care to better align physician payment to improve quality, cost-effectiveness, and patient-centered care.

“ACP believes it would be shortsighted to cut CMMI funding when the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has concluded that for every CMMI dollar spent, almost four are saved, thus reducing federal spending by about $34 billion over 10 years,” said Ana María López, MD, MPH, FACP, president, ACP, in the letter. The letter also noted ACP’s objection to funding decisions being made outside of the normal budget process. “We are also concerned that rushing through a rescissions package outside of regular order–with no hearings or testimony or markups about the impact of these cuts, as is the case for annual appropriations bills–is a poor process for Congress to establish its budgetary priorities,” continued Dr. López. Finally, the letter asked Congress to look for bipartisan agreement on budget issues, similar to the federal budget that was passed earlier this year. “We urge you, as congressional leaders, to reject these proposed rescissions, and to refrain from bringing this to a vote,” concluded Dr. López. “Instead, we urge you to return to seeking agreement on bipartisan ways to fund the federal government.”

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