Budget cuts to CDC reduce funding for bioterrorism preparedness

A budget cut in congressional funding for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be signaling financial trouble for the public health agency, including a reduction in funding for countermeasures against bioterrorism.

While President Barack Obama's proposal to cut $664 million from the agency in his 2013 budget request was somewhat eased by replacing much of it with money from other sources, a Capitol Hill vote showed how vulnerable those substitutions could be, Nature reports.

The proposed cuts would come out of grants to local, county and state public health departments along with core funding to maintain the Strategic National Stockpile, a drug repository used to fight bioterrorism and epidemics. The proposal includes a proposed $47 million cut to the stockpile.

"(The cut to the Strategic National Stockpile) is a lot more than just efficiency," Crystal Franco, an associate with the Center for Biosecurity of UPMC in Baltimore, said, according to Nature. "It's going to cut capability as well. We are reaching the tipping point where preparedness efforts are going to be reversed because of the lack of funding."

The budget for the CDC had been raised a decade ago due to bioterrorism concerns after the September 11, 2001, attacks. The sources that might be used to offset the CDC cuts are public health agencies and the Prevention and Public Health Fund. Neither of the two sources are secure in the upcoming budget decisions for 2013.