Feds on H1N1: Sorry, We Don’t Have a Line-Item For That

In Washington, a crisis isn’t real until it has its own budget line-item. The $3-odd trillion we’ll spend this year is, apparently, a ‘best-case’ scenario. Anything unusual happen; a hurricane, earthquake, wild-fires, or, say, a possible flu epidemic, and we’re going to need extra or ’supplemental’ appropriations. Our federal budget, it seems, is so lean and tight, there simply isn’t any extra money lying around to cover the unexpected ‘crisis.’

This scenario played out yesterday when Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention testified before Congress on the still-anticipated H1N1 ‘pandemic’:

The government’s disease prevention chief said Tuesday that a new vaccine to prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus is expected to be widely successful but warned that cuts to state and local public health programs could hamper a nationwide effort to administer the shots.

Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the House Oversight and Governmental Reform Committee that “decades of underinvestment in public health and public health infrastructure” and the recent furloughing and firing of public health workers as a result of the economic downtown could make it “even more challenging to implement the vaccination program.”

Well, yes, vaccines do cost money. If only we had some money for health and disease prevention. Oh wait:

September 17, 2009

HHS Secretary Sebelius Announces Cornerstone Funding of the $650 Million Recovery Act Community Prevention and Wellness Initiative

Creating ways for healthful lifestyle habits to be the natural first choice for Americans is the goal of a $650 million initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be used to increase physical activity, improve nutrition, decrease obesity, and decrease smoking in U.S. communities.

And then, on the same day Dr. Frieden was doing his best Oliver Twist before Congress:

$120 Million for States Made Available as Part of Recovery Act Community Prevention and Wellness Initiative

Now, the H1N1 is one of the more anticipated, slow-moving ‘pandemics’ in history. It hasn’t even really hit and it seems like old news. Surely, some of that $650 million in grants for ’healthy choices’ could have been used to, you know, actually keep people healthy.

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