On July 1, unless Congress acts, interest rates will double for more than 7.4 million students with federal loans. Fortunately, even though they voted just weeks ago in lockstep to allow this increase, Republicans in Congress have come around on the issue since President Obama took it to the American people – claiming they’re ready to step up and stop the rate hike. Unfortunately, rather than work together to ensure interest rates on student loans don’t double, they have decided to re-fight old political battles, proposing to eliminate the health care law’s Prevention and Public Health Fund to pay for this important reform. This proposal would put women’s health at risk. And fighting old political battles won’t protect students and young people from major rate hikes.
Eliminating the Prevention and Public Health Fund would have a devastating effect on women’s health and our work to prevent disease and illness. Eliminating the Prevention and Public Health Fund would mean:
- Hundreds of thousands of women could lose access to vital cancer screenings. Prevention Fund resources are expected to help more than 300,000 women be screened for breast cancer in 2013 and more than 280,000 be screened for cervical cancer.
- Programs that help to prevent congenital heart defects, prevent fetal alcohol syndrome, and promote early identification and intervention efforts for children with developmental delays and disabilities could be eliminated.
- Tens of thousands children could lose access to immunizations.
These are just a few of the important ways the Prevention and Public Health Fund will help keep millions of Americans healthy. Keeping college affordable for America’s students should not come at the expense of putting women’s health at risk.
The Senate will soon vote on a more viable solution to keep interest rates low and provide students a fair shot at an affordable education, by closing a loophole that allows people making more than $250,000 a year to avoid paying payroll taxes. Congress should find a bipartisan solution to keep rates low without hurting Americans’ health or increasing the deficit. There’s no good reason for interest rates to double for over 7 million students. But Republicans in Congress must prove that they’re serious about setting aside the political fights of the past and actually getting this done.