Congress has passed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 appropriations legislation for programs and agencies within the Departments of Health and Human Services, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and National Eye Institute (NEI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The legislation includes an overall increase to the CDC of $636.8 million over FY2019, including $1 million for vision and eye health and $4 million to address glaucoma, which represents flat funding for the third fiscal year. HRSA received an increase of $193 million, which includes a $16 million increase to the Maternal and Child Health Bureau. The National Institutes of Health received an increase of $2.6 billion, of which $27.6 million goes to the NEI for a total funding level of $824 million.
Our nation needs coordinated interventions that support state-based public health systems to expand early detection, prevention, patient support, and research to lessen the burden of vision disorders on children, working adults, aging Americans, and our nation’s public health infrastructure. Throughout the process of developing the FY2020 legislation, Prevent Blindness has stood in partnership with numerous public health organizations to advocate for additional funding that notably would modernize the national public health data system, closes gaps in community health care for racial and ethnic populations, and safeguard programs that promote healthy child development. Several of these efforts also received funding in the FY2020 legislation. For additional information on these initiatives, please refer to our Letters and Statements page.
Prevent Blindness will continue to advocate for policies and funding that restores the surveillance capacity of the CDC’s Vision Health Initiative (VHI), which is critical to developing targeted and effective public health interventions that lead to improved vision and eye health but has gone undone for over 10 years. Unfortunately, the longer the VHI operates without the resources sufficient to conduct reliable surveillance, the worse our national prognosis on healthy vision and eyesight will become. We believe that these strategies are critical in stemming the burgeoning tide of preventable vision loss and ensuring that Americans, through optimal vision, continue to engage with the world around them, see to work and learn, and maintain our independence as we age.