Going off fiscal cliff could hurt Iowa's health - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Going off fiscal cliff could hurt Iowa's health

If we go off the fiscal cliff, it's possible thousands of kids won't receive needed vaccines.  Less people will be tested for HIV, and hundreds of men and women won't be screened for cancer until it's too late.

Public health departments in Iowa will likely have to lay off staff due to automatic funding cuts if Congress doesn't pass new legislation.

"We're certainly very concerned about the fact that with less dollars, with fewer dollars, we're going to be able to provide less services," said Stephanie Neff, Deputy Director of the Linn County Public Health Department.  "Some of our most vulnerable populations are going to be effected by not receiving those health care services."

According to a report released by Senator Tom Harkin in July, going off the cliff would mean millions of dollars worth of cuts to health and human services departments .

2,055 Iowa children would not receive routine vaccinations.

"It's very important to get kids vaccinated because it prevents and reduces the spread of numerous diseases," said Neff.

Those kids would be in schools. Remember the recent pertussis outbreaks?  Without vaccinations, we could be seeing increases in other diseases.

"That's one example of something that might happen if children do not get the proper immunizations at a young age," said Neff.

Others worry about how low income men and women will receive cancer screenings.  They won't be able to afford them...and may not see a doctor until it's too late.

"It's very important for catching cancer in it's early stages when it can be easily treated, often without radical surgery, chemotherapy, things of that nature," said Cindy Fiester, Chronic Disease Services Program Director at the Linn County Public Health Department.

They're treatments low income families would have a hard time paying for.

Linn County Public Health Department officials say the first things to go during budget cuts are prevention programs, and prevention is an important step towards creating a healthier Iowa.

They also said should all these budget cuts happen, it would make it difficult to meet Governor Branstad's goal of being the healthiest state by 2016.

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