Congress is currently debating how to prevent a series of tax hikes and spending reductions. Part of these negotiations includes what is known as Sequestration, which would make dangerous mandatory cuts to a number of food, nutrition and health programs. Make sure your voice is being heard in this debate, by sending a letter to your Congressmen and Congresswomen.
Here are some things you can say in your letter.
Ask that they support a thoughtful, fair and balanced approach that protects non-defense discretionary programs against any further cuts. These include important programs and services that assure access to healthy and safe food and empower Americans to make these choices.
The benefits of these programs are long-term reductions in chronic disease and health-care costs. Many of these programs have already sustained significant reductions to their budgets. The Budget Control Act discretionary caps will reduce non-defense discretionary (NDD) funding by another 7 percent to 9 percent. Further reductions will weaken the infrastructure and the integrity of many programs and services including nutrition education, nutrition research and prevention programs. On the other hand, investments in these vital programs help reduce chronic disease costs that are skyrocketing and help maintain healthy families. For example, medical nutrition therapy provided by Registered Dietitians and other lifestyle interventions provide the evidence of positive outcomes in the reduction of pre-diabetes and management of diabetes.
Vision and strategies that improve the health of Americans offer the long-term solution to fiscal stability. In the coming weeks, we ask that you keep in mind the impact and funding of programs that are providing effective, long-term solutions. These include adequate funding for:
- Congregate dining and home-delivered meals to keep older adults independent and in their homes. The current projection is that Sequestration would mean 17 million fewer meals served to older adults, which would threaten independent living.
- Long-term care services provided through CMS. This saves money by providing care and avoiding hospital readmission.
- Nutrition research through NIH to continue to find answers to reduce chronic disease costs. Women, Infants and Children Program Clinics, which have already trimmed services and personnel; an additional cut would require all states to cut caseloads. A reduction of 735,000 participants would have an impact on the health of young families.
- Successful nutrition interventions funded through HHS Community Transformation Grants that help communities prevent chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. These grants are expected to improve the health of more than 4 out of 10 U.S. citizens, about 130 million Americans
- Safe food supply funded through FDA and USDA. These agencies face an increasing responsibility to protect Americans by keeping food, drugs and medical devices safe with increased globalization.
As Congress faces the difficult challenge of averting Sequestration I ask that you support a balanced approach that protects these important food, nutrition and health programs from further cuts.
Thank you for reaching out on this important issue!