The U.S. Senate is preparing to vote on the $1.1-trillion spending plan that will keep the federal government running, a measure Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says, “continues to starve critical investments that would boost the economy and create jobs.”
Harkin says the near-1,600 page budget contains some “victories,” like a bill that would increase funding to what he calls, “key initiatives.” “The bill advances my longstanding priority of shifting American health care from a sick care system to a genuine health care system,” Harkin says, “emphasizing prevention and public health.”
Harkin is a Democrat and chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. He says the legislation protects “essential investments” in the health care industry. Harkin says, “It provides a one-billion dollar increase for the National Institutes of Health as well as major new funding for brain research and a new initiative to discover ways to prevent and cure Alzheimer’s disease.”
In addition, Harkin says the bill provides almost one-billion more dollars for the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the Affordable Care Act, an element Harkin had introduced. “In the past years, funds have been diverted from this for other reasons,” Harkin says. “This year, I’ve insured that the resources from this fund are dedicated 100% to prevention and wellness, including major new funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent cancer and diabetes.”
He says the measure will also ramp up anti-smoking initiatives along with new funding to improve access to mental health treatment. It includes significant investment in early learning initiatives, along with an increase in funding for the Head Start program of more than one-billion dollars. For Iowa, he says, that will mean the restoration of most of the 800 slots in the Head Start program that were eliminated months ago by sequestration.