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Cochran questions proposed chronic disease grants

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) is asking the Secretary of Health and Human Services to explain how plans to create a chronic disease grant program would benefit rural states like Mississippi that might not have the resources to effectively compete for the new grants.

Cochran serves on the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee that conducted a hearing March 30 to review the Obama administration’s budget request for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). As part of that hearing, Cochran submitted a question asking HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to explain how rural or disadvantaged communities would be affected by awarding preventive health grants on a competitive rather than a formula basis.

Cochran has asked Sebelius to explain what plans HHS and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will develop to ensure that state health departments have the capacity to compete for funding under the new grant program.

Currently, the Mississippi Department of Health qualifies for Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant Program (PHHSBG) funding. These federal resources are used for a range of preventive health initiatives like community health promotion, disease control, water fluoridation and school health education.

The FY2012 budget proposes eliminating PHHSBG and replacing it with a new chronic disease grant program. Unlike PHHSBG awards that are distributed to states through a formula basis, the new grants would be issued on a competitive basis.

Cochran also asked Sebelius to address HHS plans for specifically dealing with health-related problems in the Mississippi Delta if Congress agrees to the Obama administration’s budget recommendation to eliminate the Delta Health Alliance and Delta Chronic Disease Assessment.

Source: Sen. Thad Cochran’s Office

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