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The American Public Health Association enthusiastically supports today’s House passage of the Build Back Better Act, a historic investment in initiatives to strengthen the nation’s public health infrastructure and workforce, protect the public from the negative health impacts of climate change, speed the nation’s transition to clean energy and to significantly expand health coverage and services to millions.
“This truly is a monumental occasion, marking a major effort to strengthen the nation’s commitment to public health,” said APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD. “The funding included in this legislation is a significant step forward in our efforts to turn around the chronic underfunding of public health. It also helps to move us closer to our goal of achieving universal health coverage and takes important steps to combat climate change and its associated health threats.”
APHA sent a letter to the House early this month urging the bill’s passage.
Critically, the bill provides $7 billion to support state and local health departments to ensure they have the cross-cutting capabilities and trained workforce needed to address existing and future health threats and ensure the nation is better prepared for the next pandemic. It also includes $1.4 billion to expand and modernize the nation’s local, state and federal public health laboratory infrastructure.
The legislation provides significant investments to expand health coverage, including closing the current Medicaid coverage gap by providing tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies for more than 2 million uninsured people who live below the poverty line, expanding Medicare to provide millions of seniors with access to coverage for hearing services and extending the American Rescue Plan Act’s enhanced premium tax credits for purchasing Affordable Care Act plans in the federal marketplace through 2025.
It also includes important investments to improve maternal health by requiring 12 months of continuous Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program eligibility to postpartum women, implementing interventions and research to address the nation's maternal mortality crisis and would provide workers with four weeks of paid family and medical leave.
“The legislation marks a landmark in funding to fight the adverse health impacts of climate change by supporting the transition of our energy and transportation sectors away from fossil fuels and towards clean, safe and renewable energy with an emphasis on environmental justice to historically underserved communities,” Dr. Benjamin added.
Among the broad array of climate change initiatives, the bill includes significant investments to help the country move to clean energy, including more than $300 billion in long-term tax credits for clean energy and transportation.
The bill also includes other important investments that would increase access to affordable housing and child care as well as funding to expand access to free school meals for 9 million additional children and funding for lead remediation, including lead service line replacement.
“We call on the Senate to quickly act to pass this crucial piece of legislation and send it to the President for his signature without delay,” Dr. Benjamin said.
The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We are the only organization that combines a 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. Learn more at www.apha.org.