February 16, 2012

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Congress considering slashing public heath funding; no wonder we have exploding medical costs

The American Public Health Association (and other public health organizations) just sent out emails notifying their members that Congress was considering a huge cut to public health programs as part of the deal to extend the payroll tax cut and maintain money paid to doctors.  This is a short-sighted measure that will greatly hurt not only pubic health programs, but contribute to exploding medical costs.

Here is the letter I sent my representative and senators; I urge everyone to express their views on this:

I read that the Congress is considering considering cutting funds allocated for public health by $5 billion to get money to increase physician payment under Medicare.  This is a short-sighted decision that will drive up health costs, even in the short run. Our research (Effect of the California Tobacco Control Program on Personal Health Care Expenditures, available at http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050178) showed that programs that reduce smoking have an almost immediate effect on reducing health costs (by preventing heart attacks, asthma attacks, and low birth weight infants in the short term, then other disease like cancer in the longer term).  In its first 15 years, the California Tobacco Control Program cost $1.4 billion and saved $86 billion in health care costs, a 50-1 return on investment that started to appear after just one year.  This short-sighted cut will actually make the deficit worse. 

The only beneficiary will be Big Tobacco and others that profit by endangering public health.

Please resist this cut.

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD
Professor of Medicine

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