Friday, March 24, 2006

Bush slashes into CDC bone and muscle

We reported on this before (here and here), but now we now have more details in an analysis by the Campaign for Public Health (CPH), a CDC advocacy group that includes as senior advisors four former CDC Directors (William Foege, William Roper, David Satcher and Jeffrey Koplan) and a former Secretary of HHS (Louis Sullivan). Many were Republican appointees.

Under President George ("Keep Us Safe") Bush's budget request, CDC is going to take a big hit. CPH makes clear the cuts are deep and go to core CDC functions. The extent of the damage is concealed on paper where CDC appears flatlined, but there is a huge chunk in the budget earmarked specifically for bioterrorism and bird flu and a huge chunk of that goes to develop vaccines and purchase antivirals.
"Once these items are excluded, it becomes clear the administration's proposal drastically cuts the CDC," the organization said.

[CDC Director Dr. Julie] Gerberding acknowledged the budget cut during an appearance at a forum on government investment in research and development.

"That's correct," she said. "Obviously, it creates a challenge. We do what every family does when their budget is short. They have to really priortize and make sure that the investments they're making are accomplishing the most they can."

She added that the CDC was "working hard to be more effective with less, but I'm not going to pretend that it's not a challenge." (Atlanta Journal Constitution)
According to CPH (and its advisors would know), the current fiscal year is the first time in 25 years CDC's operational budget has been slashed. It was done by our "Promise them anything but give them Jack Abramoff" Republican congress.
The further cut anticipated by Bush's proposed federal budget for next year would mean "core programs at the CDC will be cut by more than 8 percent in just two years," the organization sai
Core programs at CDC include research on infectious and environmental diseases, health promotion, and studies on public health and occupational safety and health concerns.

At Tuesday's forum, Gerberding said the country "simply cannot sustain this lack of investment in effective [disease] prevention sciences."
So you read about it here. You might also have read it in the Atlanta Journal Constitution. But think how many more people would read about it if the CDC Director, Dr. Gerberding, would stand up and say, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore."

It might have miraculous effects, like restoring her reputation among her public health colleagues. Sure, Bush would fire her. So what? She would go out in a blaze of glory. And it's not like she's going to be living in a Kelvinator box on the street.

(h/t crofsblog)