Orange Alert – CDC Lead Program Elimination
by Rebecca Morley
Are you receiving daily email pleas for your help in saving important federal programs? The proposed budget cuts are so broad and deep that it could be a full-time job to communicate with elected officials about the importance of maintaining these programs. The public health and affordable housing communities are in a constant state of high alert to protect vital programs for their clients. So what distinguishes our orange alert—the obliteration of the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) lead and healthy homes program by Senate appropriators—from all of the others?
Consider the following:
- Recently, there have been slight upticks in lead poisoning rates in several jurisdictions. This disturbing pattern may be a signal that the downturn of the economy and subsequent deferral of housing maintenance is adversely affecting children’s health. Since CDC maintains the system to track lead poisoning cases, the elimination of this program means we will be ignorant to possible resurgences of the disease and to new causes of exposure.
- A CDC advisory committee will soon recommend reducing the level and thereby more than double the number of children recognized at risk.
- Childhood lead poisoning prevention programs show significant cost savings on future expenditures for special education and health care. At least one state study has proven that for every dollar spent on controlling lead hazards, $17-$221 is returned in health benefits, increased IQ, higher lifetime earnings, reduced spending on special education, and reduced criminal activity. It’s a classic case of pay now or pay later.
- Without dedicated lead poisoning prevention funding some 400 state and local employees will be laid off. This is bad for the economy and further eviscerates our environmental health workforce.
Learn more about why this program is one you should fight for! Please visit the National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition’s Position Statement.
Rebecca Morley directed the National Center for Healthy Housing from October 2002 to December 2014. While at NCHH, she led efforts to create safer and healthier environments for all people, with a special focus on children and communities that are disproportionately burdened by environmental public health risks. Ms. Morley is an experienced leader and manager with nearly 20 years of experience working in the government and nonprofit sectors. Ms. Morley earned a Master of Science in public policy from the Georgia Institute of Technology and graduated from the Achieving Excellence executive fellowship program of the Harvard Kennedy School. Skilled in strategy development, policy analysis, program evaluation, organizational development, communications, grant seeking, and grant making, she now serves the public health community as a professional consultant.