“Today, President Obama unveiled his 2014 budget proposal. Now that the White House, Senate and House of Representatives have all laid out their budget plans, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) calls on Congress to act now to put children first in federal spending.
“Nearly four months after the tragic school shooting in Newtown, AAP welcomes the President’s funding requests for federal research to help identify gun violence prevention strategies and for new mental health programs to make schools and communities safer. Pediatricians now charge Congress with expanding upon the President’s plan by proposing bigger, bolder policies to provide children, adolescents and young adults with access to high quality, affordable mental health services.
“We are also pleased that the President requests funding for a loan repayment program championed by AAP. If funded by Congress, the program will go a long way to help pediatric subspecialists manage the cost of medical education and help families more quickly access the right doctor to care for their child.
“As pediatricians, we know that the first five years of life set a critical foundation for lifelong health and learning, which is why we are pleased that the President plans to increase access to high-quality early childhood education. With 3,000 children under the age of 18 starting to smoke each day, the Academy supports the President’s recommendation for a higher tax on tobacco products; however, we urge the President to ensure that this new initiative is not funded at the expense of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which is currently funded by those revenues.
“In addition, AAP commends the President for reversing sequestration’s blunt spending cuts. We are pleased to see preserved funding for medical research innovations, health reform implementation and Medicaid, and increased investments in family planning centers and preventive health services for low-income individuals.
“However, we are troubled that the Prevention and Public Health Fund continues to be drained of its resources in order to pay for other programs. The Fund, originally created as part of the Affordable Care Act, has already provided preventive services such as breastfeeding promotion, tobacco cessation, HIV/AIDS counseling and childhood obesity prevention since its inception. Displacing these needed funds to pay for other equally important and independent public health programs like poison control centers, universal newborn screenings and childhood immunizations, as President Obama proposed, is counter-intuitive and the wrong choice for children.
“Too often, children’s needs are overlooked in federal spending decisions. The nation’s pediatricians call on Congress to do right by children and build from the President’s child health investments in the 2014 federal budget.”
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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. www.aap.org)