On May 26, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS)—presided over by Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)—held a hearing to review President Biden’s FY2022 preliminary budget request for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Witnesses testifying before the subcommittee included:
- Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Dr. Anne Schuchat, Principal Deputy Director, CDC
In her opening testimony, Dr. Walensky stated that the COVID-19 pandemic threw the world into a “health, economic, and humanitarian crisis”—revealing disparities along lines of race and class. Walensky noted that at this point, the US has failed to address systemic racism and its direct relation to poorer health for people of color.
Walensky stated that President Biden’s historic discretionary budget request of $8.7 billion for the CDC—a $1.6 billion increase over FY2021— is the largest one year increase in nearly two decades. The Director noted that these funds will be utilized to revamp the nation’s public health infrastructure, reduce health disparities, invest in health equity programs, as well as defeat emerging diseases and epidemics.
Under questioning from Chair DeLauro (D-CT), Dr. Walensky stated that the nation needs an “upskilled, trained, and diverse workforce,” that serves the health of their communities. Dr. Walensky cited research from NACCHO and others showing that the public health workforce lost nearly 60,000 jobs since the 2008 financial crisis, and a quarter of the workforce is already at the age of retirement. Dr. Schuchat echoed these sentiments, stating that she regrets that she will be leaving the CDC after 33 years with a public health infrastructure that is weaker than when she started.
Under questioning from Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA), Dr. Walensky stated that “loan repayment programs across our workforce would go a long way so people can work in public health,” adding that “we need to make sure compensation in the public sector is competitive.” NACCHO has championed public health loan repayment since before the COVID pandemic started. Go to NACCHO’s website to learn how to encourage Members of Congress to cosponsor legislation to create such a loan repayment program.
In addition, NACCHO has been a strong advocate for public health infrastructure, data modernization, and workforce development. You can read more about our work with the Administration and Congress to address these issues here.