It has been an exciting year since the launch of the Data: Elemental to Health campaign in February! CSTE has been working non-stop to advocate for funding to improve public health data systems. After the successful inclusion of new funding in the House appropriations bill, the entire process came to a halt when Congress could not agree to a spending package by September 30 resulting in two continuing resolutions.
But good things come to those who wait/never stop advocating for data modernization! Late Friday night, the President signed the FY20 spending bill into law solidifying $50 million in new money for CDC’s efforts to modernize public health data systems! This is a huge win for public health and the new funds will help pave the way towards a 21st century public health data superhighway. A big thanks to all of you that participated in our digital days of action to urge your elected officials to support data modernization. It goes to show that every voice counts!
Here are some highlights of CSTE’s activity over the past year for the Data: Elemental to Health campaign:
· Janet Hamilton, CSTE’s Director of Science and Policy, testified about public health data needs before the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee;
· Dr. Sharon Watkins, CSTE’s President and State Epidemiologist for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, testified about public health data needs in front of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee;
· Four authorizing bills, two in the House and two in the Senate, were introduced to support public health data modernization:
o H.R. 2479 Section 45001 of the Leading Infrastructure for Tomorrow’s (LIFT) America Act;
o H.R. 5321 Public Health Infrastructure Modernization Act of 2019;
o S. 1793 Saving Lives Through Better Data Act;
o S. 1985 Section 405 of the Lower Health Care Costs Act;
· CSTE released a comprehensive report, Driving Public Health in the Fast Lane: The Urgent Need for a 21st Century Data Superhighway, to highlight the current challenges with public health data systems and outlining the path towards interoperability;
· CSTE submitted written statements for two Congressional hearings on e-cigarettes.
There is more good news! Funding for CDC as a whole increased this year. FY20 includes a total of $8 billion for CDC which is $636 million above FY19 and $1.4 billion above the President’s Budget Request. A breakdown of areas of interest are listed below:
· $230 million to address tobacco and e-cigs; an increase of $20 million
· $622 million to Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases; an increase of $2 million
o $170 million to the Antibiotic Resistance Initiative; an increase of $2 million
o Flat funding for vector-borne diseases at $38.6 million
o $14 million for Lyme disease; an increase of $2 million
o $188.7 million for the Emerging Infectious Disease line; an increase of $31.8 million
o Flat funding for AMD at $30 million
· $555.4 million to Public Health Scientific Services; an increase of $59 million
o $50 million in NEW funding for public health data modernization!
o $9 million for all other surveillance, epidemiology, and informatics
o Public Health Workforce is flat funded at $51 million
· For the first time in 20 years there is $12.5 million in new funding to support firearm injury and mortality prevention research in the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
· $852.2 million for public health preparedness and response; a decrease of $5.7 million
o Flat funding for the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Cooperative Agreement at $675 million
· $85 million for the Infectious Disease Rapid Response Reserve Fund; an increase of $35 million.
At the end of the day, CSTE’s priorities fared extremely well in the year-end spending bill! Thanks to CSTE’s strong advocacy and presence on Capitol Hill, many of CSTE’s priorities saw increases in funding. Our advocacy successes this year are a good example of your membership fees at work! Without the commitment and strength of CSTE’s members, all of our wins would not be possible. Thank you for your dedication and support.
Additional information about funding levels for your specific priorities can be found in the spending bill, and in the accompanying report that provides more detailed information.
Celia Hagan, MPH is vice president at Cavarocchi Ruscio Dennis Associates, LLC, which represents CSTE’s interests on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC