The GOP: Bringing Back Infectious Diseases
Here’s the latest front in the GOP’s war on government services that help low-income families: huge funding cuts in the Centers for Disease Control’s immunization and respiratory health programs.
In the past year, California has experienced the worst whooping cough outbreak in more than 50 years, an epidemic that has killed 10 infants and resulted in 6,400 reported cases. But even as the state’s public health officials have struggled to curb the disease, Republicans in Congress have proposed slashing millions in federal funding for immunization programs. Public health advocates warn that these cuts threaten efforts across the country to prevent and contain infectious and sometimes fatal diseases. And they add that lower vaccination rates could eventually result in more outbreaks that endanger public health at a major cost to taxpayers.
The House GOP’s 2011 budget would chop $156 million from the Centers for Disease Control’s funding for immunization and respiratory diseases. The GOP reductions are likely to hit the CDC’s support for state and local immunization programs, the agency’s ability to evaluate which vaccines are working, and its work to educate the public about recommended vaccines for children, teenagers, and other susceptible populations. The CDC especially focuses on serving lower-income families who receive vaccines at state and local health offices and community health clinics, rather than a private doctor’s office.
It seems insane to take away funding for programs that prevent outbreaks of diseases. Immunizations save millions of lives in this country and protect the public at large from wider outbreaks and even epidemics.
It seems insane, that is, until you recognize the pattern behind this and much of the other legislation the Republican Party is frantically pushing in this session of Congress. The GOP is determinedly stripping away every federal safety net for middle class and lower income families — Planned Parenthood, affordable health insurance legislation, collective bargaining, and now even protection against infectious diseases.