Colorado Public Health Funding: What's at Risk

We are reminded that public health impacts all of us, from clean air to safe foods, as we celebrate National Public Health Week.

But public health funding is facing big cuts in President Trump’s proposed budget. A new analysis by the Colorado Health Institute finds that the president’s proposals – if approved – could place vital public health funding in Colorado at risk.

The Prevention and Public Health Fund, added to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to support public health programming across the country, provided $9 million to Colorado last year, and more than $57 million since it was enacted.

The American Health Care Act included a full repeal of the fund, and even though the legislation was pulled back, other significant funding sources remain at risk.  

Just eight percent of Colorado’s public health funding comes from the state’s general fund. About 55 percent comes from the federal government through agencies such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Coloradans receive direct benefits from many of these programs. The Women, Infants and Children program provides education, healthy food and breastfeeding support to Colorado families. It is funded by the USDA, which is facing a 21 percent budget cut.

The Vaccines for Children program provides vaccines for free or at low cost to families who are unable to afford them. It is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which is part of HHS – and HHS is facing an 18 percent cut.

The Environmental Protection Agency is looking at a 31 percent cut, prompting the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s executive director to issue a statement of concern.

If enacted, these cuts would leave Colorado lawmakers and communities with difficult decisions about how to pay for these programs.

Public health funding focuses on programs that affect the entire population, whether we see it or not. Public health dollars help keep water drinkable, air clean and prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

Teresa Manocchio joined the Colorado Health Institute in January 2017 as a policy analyst. At CHI, she researches and analyzes issues that impact population health, including behavioral health and other public health priorities.