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Santa Maria Sun / Letter To The Editor

The following article was posted on June 12th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 14 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 14

Budget woes put public health at risk

Donna Beal, MPH, MCHES

Santa Maria

In communities across the country, people are changing the way they care for their health by limiting tobacco use, eating healthier, and becoming more physically active with the support of public health programs. Yet these recent advances are being dangerously and perhaps irrevocably compromised by recent budget cuts to proven community-based health programs.

The current health delivery system is a patchwork of services, programs and regulatory authorities that is neither designed for optimal performance nor funded for sustainability and success. At a time when our communities’ budget shortfalls are facing even tighter restraints, federal, state, and local health departments are being asked to do more with less. The capacity for health professionals to prevent and respond to some of today’s pressing health challenges or simply provide basic public health and preventive services is in grave danger.

Plus, as a result of Congress’ failure to act, public health programs are being severely impacted by across-the-board cuts, known as sequestration, at the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Resources and Services Administration, and many other public health agencies. These devastating cuts are, in essence, a cut to state and local communities that will compromise our nation’s health, security and economic growth. What’s more, they will take place year after year for 10 years if Congress does not find an alternative solution to reduce the deficit.

Improved funding for the public health system is one critical piece of the puzzle that could save millions of lives. It’s time to act on what we know is the right thing to do. For Congress, the message is clear: The long-term health consequences, including costs, will far outweigh the short-term savings. The public health community strongly urges renewed and desperately needed public health funding. We cannot afford to wait. The future of our nation’s health is depending on it.