The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will get its biggest funding boost in nearly two decades if President Joe Biden’s federal budget proposal is passed by Congress.

The White House released its detailed budget proposal for fiscal year 2022 on Friday, calling for a more than $1.6 billion funding increase at CDC. If enacted, CDC’s budget would top $9.4 billion — a 21% increase over fiscal year 2021 levels — and come close to the $10 billion investment that public health advocates such as APHA have urged lawmakers to support. The CDC budget proposal boosts funds for a number of top public health priorities, including violence prevention, maternal health, climate change and health disparities. It also includes $400 million for a new public health infrastructure and capacity-building initiative.

Long before COVID-19 arrived, APHA and other advocates warned about the consequences of chronically underfunding public health agencies, including CDC. Aside from COVID-19 response funds, CDC’s fiscal year 2021 budget was down 1% from the previous year, researchers from Trust for America’s Health noted in May. Between fiscal years 2012 and 2021, CDC’s core budget fell by 2% when adjusted for inflation.

“This new budget proposal takes seriously the significant and urgent health challenges in front of us and the critical role of a strong public health system in meeting those challenges head-on,” said APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD. “We look forward to working with the Biden administration and public health supporters in Congress to make this budget a reality.”

Among the many boosts in CDC’s budget proposal is a $100 million increase for its Climate and Health Program; a more than $237 million increase for opioid overdose prevention and surveillance; a doubling of funds for research on firearm violence, to $25 million; and an additional $150 million for crosscutting work on social determinants of health.

The CDC budget proposal also includes an increase of $100 million for public health data modernization, $100 million more for global health security activities, an additional $100 million for HIV prevention, and $100 million for a new Community Violence Intervention Initiative in cities around the nation.

“This budget request begins to address the critical needs to improve the public health system for America,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, in a news release. “The nation, the world, face incredible challenges responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Investing in long-term, sustainable programs and systems to address deficits in the public health system — equitably for all Americans — will put the nation on better footing to confront future threats.”

The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration also got a lift in Biden’s budget proposal, which recommended an 8% funding increase for the agency. The HRSA proposal includes a 15% funding increase for the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant, an 18% increase for the Title X Family Planning Program, a 54% increase for the National Health Service Corps, and an 81% increase for the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. initiative.

In addition to proposing annual discretionary funds for federal agencies, the White House budget also includes money to permanently extend new Affordable Care Act subsidies and fund Biden’s American Jobs and American Families plans, both of which could have far-reaching impacts on public health priorities such as cleaner energy and affordable child care. Biden’s budget also calls on Congress to create a public option health plan; lower the minimum eligibility age for Medicare; and expand Medicare to include vision, hearing and dental coverage.

Congress has already started holding hearings on the fiscal year 2022 budget and is — ideally — expected to pass its appropriations bills by the end of September.

To speak out in support of strong public health funding, advocates can use one of APHA’s action alerts. It is important for legislators to hear from their constituents during the appropriations process, noted Don Hoppert, APHA’s director of government relations.

“Your voice as a public health professional is vital, especially now,” Hoppert said. “The nation’s public health system is in crucial need of sustained support from Congress.”

Read more about Biden’s budget proposal in the June issue of The Nation’s Health.