10.17.14

Congresswoman Lee Convenes Stakeholder Roundtable on Ebola & Public Health Preparedness

Oakland, CA – After meeting with local, state and federal public health officials and stakeholders on the U.S. response to Ebola and overall public health preparedness in the California’s 13th Congressional district, Congresswoman Barbara released this statement: 

“I convened this morning’s roundtable to learn firsthand about the state of preparedness and needed resources.
 
Many are concerned about the threat of Ebola and other infectious diseases to public health in the U.S. and abroad. We must recognize these concerns, carefully examine them and ensure our communities are prepared to address all public health crises.
 
Our national public health agencies, such as the CDC, are working day and night to address Ebola. More must be done. 
 
I am pleased President Obama has appointed a federal Ebola coordinator to oversee all efforts to address this disease.  We must fight to ensure that all necessary federal funding resources are available. 
 
Sadly, the CDC and other critical public health institutions have been underfunded year after year.
 
Over the last four years, Republicans have allowed a sixteen percent cut to relevant CDC programs, more than a ten percent cut to NIH funding and a forty-four percent cut to the HHS Hospital Preparedness Program.

Along with my Democratic colleagues on the Appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, I have called for a hearing on the impacts of these cuts on our nation’s preparedness to address infectious diseases and ensure public health.
 
Our public health institutions must be properly funded to respond to any health crisis.
 
Additionally, I am writing a letter with Congresswoman Chu and my fellow CAPAC health care task force chair, Congressman Ami Bera, calling on the Senate to rapidly confirm President Obama’s nominee for Surgeon General.  Confirmation of a highly qualified Surgeon General will allow for the dissemination of correct medical information and amplification of the CDC’s actions.
 
Both domestically and globally, Congress must re-prioritize and focus on public health.
 
This outbreak has again instructed us that our nation must think about health globally and work to support public health programs and critical infrastructure in the developing world while investing in critical public health infrastructure and research at home.” 

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Congresswoman Lee is a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees, the Steering and Policy Committee, is a Senior Democratic Whip, former chair of both the Congressional Black Caucus and Progressive Caucus. She serves as chair of the newly formed Whip’s Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality and Opportunity.