Remember when President Obama slow jammed the news on the Jimmy Fallon show?
The actual issue he was talking about was student loans for college. Yet that issue has been slowed, and jammed up in the health care debate.
Without Congressional action, interest rates on student loans will double this summer. The GOP House leadership had previously opposed action, but shifted to support preventing that interest rate hike on college students… but paying for it by slashing critical funds for health and prevention.
As opposed to the President’s proposal to fund the program by closing certain tax loopholes, Republicans want to fund this important student loan initiative by cutting $6 billion from the Prevention and Public Health Fund set up in the Affordable Care Act.
As Families USA describes, “the Prevention and Public Health Fund is already having a positive impact. It’s providing training for new primary care doctors (we’re currently 30,000 short) and doubling the number of smokers calling the national quit hotline. It’s funding breast and cervical cancer screenings for hundreds of thousands of women, expanding opportunities for HIV/AIDS testing, and supporting suicide prevention. It’s been used to fight obesity by creating a network of 600 healthy corner stores in Philadelphia and putting in sidewalks in Merced County, California, so kids can walk to school. The fund works by providing grants to states and communities for these critical preventive efforts. One in six Americans already benefits from this work to promote better long-term health.”
Thankfully, President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Reid have opposed this short-sighted raid on health funds. After all, preventing disease by fighting obesity and smoking, screening for cancer, making sure kids get vaccinations, and strengthening our primary care system all saves money.Some calculate that every dollar put into proven community-based prevention programs yields $5.60 down the road.
But we need to be vigilant. And if not in this battle, the Republicans keep coming back to pick apart the Affordable Care Act–and then attack it later if it doesn’t yield all the promised results. We can’t let this cynical strategy be successful.