The 2014 Ebola outbreak has been the largest in history. Although the disease had been ravaging multiple West African nations for some time, concern heightened rapidly in the United States a few months ago, as the first patient in the U.S. died from Ebola; two nurses who had provided care for the patient also contracted the disease (but ultimately recovered).
Latest reports show a decrease in the number of reported cases, but concern is likely to linger on for many months afterward, while recovery efforts in West Africa are likely to take significant time and effort.
Amidst the international health crisis and the rising fear in the West, there are some who have taken the opportunity to criticize past spending cuts (some even going so far as to imply the outbreak would have been contained without them) and call for more funding moving forward. Reportedly, Senators McConnell and Reid will seek a Lame Duck deal that includes more money for Ebola.
Senate Appropriations held a full committee hearing to discuss the government’s response to the crisis, with increased funding an ever-present possibility.
The fact is, though, the Centers for Disease Control has seen its budget increase in recent years. For instance, in 2012, the CDC received well over $740 million in additional funding from the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Care Fund. In 2014, the CDC budget increased by 8.2% overall.
Like any government agency, the CDC is prone to mismanagement and misallocated resources, and like most government agencies, its responsibilities are varied and expanding.
Where do we go from here?
It’s clear that there have been missteps and poor management, and real reform is required. Politicians and the public alike, though, should regard with skepticism any calls to increase spending on an organization whose problems are not related to a lack of spending.