President’s Budget Proposal Takes a Hatchet to Our Health

President Trump wants to axe CDC programs and activities that will help protect us from climate change.
graph of CDC funding history
Credit: CDC, "Overview: FY 2019 President’s Budget Request"

President Trump’s latest budget proposal is chock full of cuts to key programs within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If Congress axes CDC in line with Trump’s request, state and local officials will struggle even more to respond to carbon pollution-fueled disasters like recent hurricanes, wildfires, and mudslides.

The CDC exists to protect our health, safety, and security. Nearly 85 percent of its funding for domestic programs goes straight to the public health officials on the front lines of diseases and disasters. The agency—and in fact our entire healthcare system—is chronically underfunded, leading national experts in 2012 to call for federal spending to double.

But don’t look to the Trump administration’s budget for smart investments in our health.

The proposal slashes CDC programs that are increasingly critical as climate change piles health costs onto U.S. residents:

  • Environmental Health Activities will lose more than 23 percent (nearly $10.4 million). There were no details at press time about specific cuts. Based on last year’s budget proposal, however, the $10 million likely will come from eliminating the Building Resilience Against Climate Effects (BRACE) program. BRACE helps states and cities assess climate-related health threats, design protective strategies, and develop and implement climate and health adaptation plans. Arizona, for instance, used BRACE to improve its heat emergency plans and to respond to recent flooding and fires.

  • The Environmental and Health Outcome Tracking Network will lose more than 26 percent (about $8.9 million) from its budget. This network, which serves 62 percent of the U.S. population, helps health officials make data-driven decisions about climate-related health threats like extreme heat and asthma. Take the Missouri Tracking Program, which used the network to create an interactive map of public cooling centers. Missouri residents can now find safe places to go on dangerously hot days—especially if they can’t afford higher electricity bills.

At the same time, Trump and his team are making it harder for the most vulnerable among us to deal with the health impacts of a hotter and wilder climate. For example, the proposal would:

  • Eliminate the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program. REACH aims to close the gap between health outcomes in different racial and ethnic groups. Hispanic children in the United States, for example, are twice as likely to die from asthma as non-Hispanic white children. The REACH program has already reduced the number of school absences for asthma in Boston and improved care for related chronic conditions across New England.

Trump’s proposal would hamstring the ability of our nation’s health system to keep us safe—especially since it also aims to gut pollution-cutting policies and climate research programs at other federal agencies. In an era of mounting health threats associated with climate change, Congress needs to see the budget for what it really is: a hatchet job on behalf of Trump’s polluter allies.

Related Blogs