New federal emergency fund proposed to respond to public health outbreaks

Ever since the Ebola and Zika epidemics, public health officials have advocated for a special emergency fund that would allow the United States to respond rapidly to disease outbreaks. This budget blueprint creates a new Federal Emergency Response Fund, but provides no specifics about how large it would be or where the funds will come from.

Top health officials, including Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have repeatedly called for such a fund, especially after Congress delayed nine months in approving emergency funding to fight the Zika epidemic.

The president’s blueprint for the Department of Health and Human Services does not include a proposed 2018 budget figure for the CDC, which is part of HHS. Its current core budget is about $7 billion.

Nor does the 2018 summary list what CDC programs might be cut. CDC, the nation’s chief public health agency, is responsible for everything from investigating disease outbreaks to figuring out how best to prevent the leading causes of death in the United States, such as heart disease and cancer.

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