(CNSNews.com) - A federal judge in Florida recently ruled that the entire health care law is unconstitutional – a ruling Judge Roger Vinson described as “the functional equivalent of an injunction.” But that hasn't stopped the Obama administration from spending hundreds of millions of dollars authorized by the disputed law.
On Wednesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced a $750 million investment in prevention and public health -- funded through the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which was created by the new health care law.
The $750 million builds on a $500 million investment last year, she noted.
Sebelius said the new taxpayer dollars "will help prevent tobacco use, obesity, heart disease, stroke, and cancer; increase immunizations; and empower individuals and communities with tools and resources for local prevention and health initiatives."
“Prevention is something that can’t just happen in a doctor’s office, Sebelius said in a news release. “If we are to address the big health issues of our time, from physical inactivity to poor nutrition to tobacco use, it needs to happen in local communities,” she said.
White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs told CNSNews.com on Feb. 7 that the administration would "rightly" continue to implement the Democrats' health care law even though the federal judge who sided with 26 states in declaring it unconstitutional said that his ruling was “the functional equivalent of an injunction” against the law.
According to HHS, the Prevention and Public Health Fund, created by the Democrats’ health care law, is designed to “provide states and communities the resources they need to promote healthy living,” among other things.
The $750-million infusion announced on Wednesday will expand “four critical priorities,” as follows:
-- Community Prevention: $298 million will be used to help promote health and wellness in local communities, including efforts to prevent and reduce tobacco use; improve nutrition and increase physical activity to prevent obesity; and coordinate and focus efforts to prevent chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
-- Clinical Prevention: $182 million will be used to improve access to preventive care, including increasing awareness of the new prevention benefits provided under the new health care law. The money also will be used to increase the availability and use of immunizations, and help integrate behavioral health services into primary care settings.
-- Public Health Infrastructure: $137 million will help state and local health departments “meet 21st century challenges,” including investments in information technology and training for the public health workforce to enable detection and response to infectious disease outbreaks and other health threats.
-- Research and Tracking: $133 million will be used to collect data to monitor the impact of the Affordable Care Act on the health of Americans and “identify and disseminate evidence-based recommendations on important public health challenges.”