Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Popular health programs face Bush cuts

Funding could end for some health clinics and programs supporting patients with heart disease and Alzheimer's

President Bush's 2007 budget, if enacted, would eliminate federal programs that support inner-city Indian health clinics, defibrillators in rural areas, an educational campaign about Alzheimer's disease, centers for traumatic brain injuries, and a nationwide registry for Lou Gehrig's disease. It would cut close to $1 billion in health care grants to states. The president, instead, has requested billions more to prepare for potential disasters such as a biological attack or an flu epidemic.

A spokesman for the American Heart Association says he can't understand why the administration has recommended eliminating a $1.5 million program that provides defibrillators to rural communities and trains local personnel on how to use the machines to restart hearts that go into cardiac arrest. Heart disease is a major killer in the U.S.

The 2007 budget would discontinue $12 million in state grants for community-based Alzheimer's care and a $1.6 million "Maintain Your Brain" campaign run out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Today, more than 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer's, a number expected to rise to 16 million by mid-century. Other programs on the chopping block include a $10 million newborn screening initiative and $20 million in grants to train emergency medical personnel to care for children.

The Department of Health and Human Resources defends the cuts, noting that the budget has an adequate amount of funding going into Alzheimer's. Critics once again cry that the Bush administration is choosing tax cuts for the wealthy over services that benefit the poor. More from the Washington Post.

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