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The President’s health spending law set up a “Prevention and Public Health Fund” that Washington Democrats claimed would promote wellness, prevent disease and protect against public health emergencies.
We now know that instead of helping Americans prevent health problems, the Administration is using its so-called “prevention fund” as a Washington slush fund. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, eliminating this fund would save $13.6 billion over ten years.
Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) spoke in support of Senator Lamar Alexander’s (R-Tenn.) legislation that would eliminate this wasteful program and use the savings to maintain student loan interest rates at 3.4%.
Excerpts of Senator Barrasso’s remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate:
“Congress has talked a lot about the so-called ‘prevention and public health’ fund which is included in the President’s health care law.
“When we get to the specifics of this public health fund and prevention fund, the President and Democrats have claimed that the purpose of the fund, the purpose was to promote wellness, prevent disease and protect against public health emergencies.
“Well, all of us want to promote wellness, prevent disease, and protect against public health emergencies. As a doctor, I know how important it is, to the point that for over two decades in Wyoming, I was Medical Director of a program called the Wyoming Health Fairs, where we provided low-cost health care screenings to people all across the cowboy state.
“Instead of helping Americans prevent health problems, the President’s new law actually uses this so-called ‘prevention fund’ as a Washington slush fund.
“In fact, the new health law provided about $15 billion for this fund from 2010-2019, and then beyond that, about $2 billion every year in annual appropriation of funds received to go toward this same slush fund. Forever—$2 billion a year forever.
“Who's going to control the fund? Well, the Secretary of Health and Human Services. And even though this law has only been in place now for two years, we've already witnessed how the Obama administration officials have allowed this money to be wasted.
“Among other things, we hear of a health clinic using the funding to spay and neuter pets. Another state's Department of Health used $3.6 million to create at least four regional food policy councils. And taxpayers are going to be not so happy, of course to learn that their hard-earned money helped one county in California secure a ban on new fast-food restaurants.
“Well, you know, nothing against a food policy or spaying or neutering pets, but when the United States government is borrowing approximately 40 cents out of every dollar that we spend, when we have a national debt in the area of $15 trillion, Washington should not waste Americans’ hard-earned taxpayer dollars.
“According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, eliminating the prevention fund would save about $13.5 billion over the next ten years.
“The fact is, Congress already funds many prevention programs, prevention programs with a proven track record of success. Examples include cancer prevention, tobacco prevention, and a host of other problems. So Republicans have supported and will continue to support these critical prevention programs.
“However, the record is clear that the so-called ‘prevention fund’ in the health care law is wasteful and
duplicative. It doesn't help the people stay well or become well.
“Now, Senator Alexander from Tennessee has introduced legislation that would eliminate this slush fund and use the savings to maintain student loan interest rates at 3.8%. Under current law, students who receive subsidized Stafford student loans will see their rates increase shortly to 6.8%.
“Senator Alexander's proposal stops the rate increase, which we all want to do, by eliminating this prevention slush fund. His bill uses the rest of the funding for deficit reduction. And I’ve cosponsored that legislation.
“I think it's also important to note that President Obama has already agreed to use his slush fund to offset other spending. In September of 2011, the President proposed reducing the slush fund by $3.5 billion. In February, part of the payroll tax cut signed by the President contained a $4.5 billion cut from his slush fund. Finally in March, the President’s 2013 budget proposed cutting the fund by another $5 billion.
“So it's ironic that the President of the United States and Washington Democrats now oppose using money from their so-called ‘prevention’ slush fund.
“If the White House and Democrats in Congress really want to ensure the student loan rates stay low, they'll cut this wasteful program and use the money to help the next generations of Americans.”