Why Obama’s Budget Cuts $50 Million From National Vaccine Program

White House says Obamacare has expanded immunization coverage for kids.

ByABC News
February 3, 2015, 11:28 AM

— -- President Obama has proposed a $50-million cut to a federal immunization program, citing diminished need for government-funded vaccinations thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

The funding reduction, included in Obama's 2016 budget blueprint released Monday, comes amid a measles outbreak nationwide and growing debate over vaccinations.

The government budgeted $611 million in 2015 for the federal purchase and distribution of vaccines for uninsured children and adults, which is authorized by Section 317 of the Public Health Service Act.

The proposed cut for 2016 is relatively modest, but would reduce the number of immunizations provided free of charge at local, state and national levels.

In an interview Sunday, Obama called on all parents to vaccinate their kids, warning that allowing a segment of the population to remain unvaccinated threatens the safety of everyone.

The White House says the president's proposal to cut immunization funding would not undermine administration and public health efforts nationwide.

"The health insurance expansion will further increase access to immunizations and decrease the number of uninsured and underinsured individuals in need of Section 317 vaccine for routine immunizations," explained Melanie Roussell, a spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget.

While there are no concrete estimates for how many children have gained coverage under Medicaid or CHIP -- the Children's Health Insurance Program – specifically as a result of the Affordable Care Act, experts say the law has significantly expanded access to the programs for the uninsured and their families.

The rate of uninsured children in America has been cut in half in the past 15 years, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which estimates 8 percent of U.S. children between the ages of 1 and 18 have no health insurance.