Academy Opposes Using the Prevention Fund to Pay for the Puerto Rico Economic Empowerment Act

August 9, 2018

The Honorable Orrin G. Hatch
Chairman
U.S. Senate Finance Committee
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Ron Wyden
Ranking Member
U.S. Senate Finance Committee
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Hatch and Ranking Member Wyden:

On behalf of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a nonpartisan organization representing more than 100,000 registered dietitian nutritionists and nutrition and dietetics technicians, registered, I am writing to voice the Academy’s opposition to using the Prevention and Public Health Fund to pay for the Puerto Rico Economic Empowerment Act of 2018 (S. 3256). While the Academy supports the goal of rebuilding Puerto Rico’s economy, redirecting at least $4.3 billion from the Prevention Fund will have harmful consequences on the lifesaving investments made by the Fund. We urge you to oppose using the Prevention Fund as an offset in S. 3256 and instead find a bipartisan solution to fund the tax provisions.

America’s economic well-being is inextricably tied to the health of its communities and people. Keeping Americans healthier would significantly drive down trips to the doctor’s office or emergency room, reduce health care costs and improve overall productivity. Without a strong investment in prevention, the country will never advance in the fight to prevent diseases and curb epidemics. Our country cannot afford to lose this sustained national investment in prevention and public health programs, which improve health and reduce the rate of growth in private and public health care costs.

We know that the vast majority of chronic disease can be prevented by simply addressing the root causes of disease, which largely stem from unhealthy behaviors such as tobacco use, poor nutrition and physical inactivity. The Prevention Fund provides state and local governments with the resources and flexibility to invest in prevention programs that improve access to and incentivize healthy lifestyles.  This investment counteracts the federal dollars spent each year to treat chronic diseases.

Academy members and your constituents play a critical role in the successful planning and implementation of nutrition programs receiving support from the Prevention Fund. Their efforts ensure millions of Americans have information and education they need to make healthy choices for themselves and their families. Our members play a critical role in guaranteeing that people have access to healthy food at school, at work, at home and in community settings, which helps stem the tide of obesity and other costly chronic diseases. These efforts will be lost without continued funding.

In its first seven years, the Prevention Fund has been invested in our communities and in our families to help provide strategies for long-term behavior change including tobacco use prevention, healthy eating and active living, as well as childhood immunizations and clinical prevention. Cutting the Fund would dramatically impede efforts now underway to improve health in every state, cost jobs and increase chronic disease.

We urge you not to use the Prevention Fund as an offset in S. 3256, which would devastate the public health infrastructure. Prevention Fund dollars allow new and innovative approaches to help states, localities, tribes, and communities protect themselves from health threats and work collectively to achieve better health. We cannot trade away our single best resource to invest in prevention, reduce rates of chronic illness, save lives, and save money. Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to working with you to improve the health and nutrition of all Americans.

Sincerely,

Mary Russell, MS, RDN, LDN, FAND
President, 2018-2019