A Republican congressman, who voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act more than 30 times, called on the federal government on Monday to use a fund embedded in the law to help prevent a national outbreak of Ebola.
“It’s section 4002 in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, it’s called the Prevention and Public Health Fund, and this is a self-replenishing fund, at the first of the fiscal year every year,” Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) explained during an appearance on 660AM’s Mark Davis Show.
“Two billion dollars washes into the Secretary’s offices of Health and Human Services for her to use, do whatever she wishes,” he added, before asking, “But how about we take these $2 billion and we fight this darn disease?”
Republicans have previously described the Prevention Fund — which invests in community and clinical prevention, research, public health infrastructure, immunizations and screenings, tobacco prevention and public health workforce and training — as a “slush fund” and have repeatedly voted to cut its funding.
The Obama administration has mobilized a wide spectrum of government departments to fight the virus overseas and will continue to rely on the publicly funded health care system to ensure that the virus does not spread beyond the one diagnosed case in Dallas, Texas. Increasing health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act can also help in that effort. Research has shown that people who lack health insurance delay or skip health care services or substitute home remedies or over the counter drugs for doctor visits that can diagnose and prevent the spread of communicable disease. People who have access to routine needed care are less likely to be susceptible to disease, leading to improvements in individual and community resilience.
“It’s preposterous that you would continue to use this money for what I would consider non-essential incidentals when you’ve got this fire raging right outside your door,” Burgess said in making his case for using Obamacare funds to help fight Ebola.