(H.R. 1217) On an amendment that would have required the Government Accountability Office, which undertakes investigations and studies for Congress, to conduct a study on the impact of a preventive health care program on preventing chronic diseases and promoting public health
This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) that would have required the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which undertakes investigations and studies for Congress, to conduct a study on the impact of the Prevention and Public Health Fund on “preventing chronic diseases and promoting public health.”
The Prevention and Public Health Fund was established in 2010 under the landmark health care reform law that was strongly supported and signed into law by President Obama. The Fund authorized the Health and Human Services secretary to allocate funding to states for a wide variety of preventive health care programs, such as immunizations, school health centers, primary care physician training programs, and anti-obesity measures. Most Democrats strongly supported the Fund, arguing it would lower health care costs by expanding access to preventive care. Republicans derided the program as a “slush fund” for the HHS secretary. This amendment was offered to legislation eliminating the Prevention and Public Health Fund.
Castor urged support for her amendment: “…My amendment requires a government accountability study…to study the impact the Prevention and Public Health initiative has on preventing chronic diseases and promoting public health….prevention works. It's smart. It saves the taxpayers money. It saves families money. And it saves lives. The Prevention and Public Health initiative empowers communities all across this great nation to focus on prevention and wellness and what works for them when it comes to reducing cancer cases, reducing heart disease, reducing strokes back in our own hometowns….We all know our neighbors, friends, families, folks we go to church with, folks we see in the grocery store that suffer from these diseases. In a lot of these cases, if they had gotten early detection or if we had worked harder on prevention, they wouldn't have fallen into that trap of the disease and all that it brings for families and communities.”
Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) opposed the amendment: “…The amendment before us directs the GAO to pontificate on the effectiveness of unspecified prevention, wellness, and public health activities financed by funds under….[the Prevention and Public Health Fund] As we have pointed out, section 4002 gives the Secretary of HHS complete discretion to spend the slush fund with little limitation….How can we ask the GAO to determine the effectiveness of spending dollars when we simply don't know how those dollars will be spent? Is GAO supposed to assume that funds will be used to train doctors or build jungle gyms? Will their report make the assumption that the money will be used to advocate for soda tax increases in states or build signs that direct people to bike paths? All of these activities can be funded through this slush fund.”
The House rejected this amendment by a vote of 187-237. Voting “yea” were 186 Democrats and 1 Republican. 236 Republicans and 2 Democrat voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have required the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study on the impact of a preventive health care program on preventing chronic diseases and promoting public health.