This week, the House Appropriations Committee agreed on legislation to fund programs under the Department of Health and Human Services in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. As a result of Prevent Blindness advocacy, the legislation includes a total of $6 million for vision and eye health programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In particular, the Vision Health Initiative (VHI) would be funded at $2 million in FY2020, which is a $1 million increase over FY2019. The CDC’s Glaucoma project would continue to be funded at $4 million. The legislation would bring the VHI’s funding levels to its highest funding level since FY 2010.

“We are grateful that House Appropriators recognize the importance of investing in vision and eye health programs at the CDC,” said Jeff Todd, President and CEO of Prevent Blindness. “The VHI plays a critical role in addressing our national vision impairment and eye disease burden through public health research and evidence-based public health interventions. With this additional funding, the VHI can continue to focus on strengthening its multiple partnerships to expand vision and eye health education efforts at the state and community levels. As the FY2020 appropriations process continues forward, Prevent Blindness will continue to advocate for policies and funding that strengthen the surveillance capacity of the CDC’s VHI, which is critical to developing targeted and effective public health interventions that lead to improved vision and eye health.”

The legislation, which is the first appropriations bill to pass out of Committee this year, will now be considered by the House. In addition, Prevent Blindness encourages Congress and the White House to work towards raising spending caps to ensure that these proposed increases can become a reality.