Press Release

Obama Administration Prioritizes Millions of Dollars for Pickleball, Massage Therapy, Zumba, and Free Pet Neutering Over Helping Cancer Patients and Vulnerable Americans


Obama White House Threatens Veto of Helping Sick Americans Now Act: “While the Administration would like to extend coverage to as many Americans as possible… The [Prevention] Fund has maintained high-priority activities to improve health outcomes...”


On Wednesday, the House of Representatives will consider H.R. 1549, the Helping Sick Americans Now Act. The bill eliminates an Obamacare implementation slush fund, prioritizes funding for vulnerable Americans, and cuts the deficit by approximately $8 billion. While Obamacare’s proponents tried to sell their law on the issue of pre-existing conditions, the Obama administration broke its promise of coverage, leaving sick Americans with nowhere to go.

Three weeks ago, the Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing and heard testimony from a patient named Susan Zurface, a mother of two who is struggling with leukemia. (Watch Zurface’s compelling testimony here) Susan’s application for the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) was completed and ready to be sent when CMS announced it was suspending enrollment in the program. On Tuesday night, the White House threatened to veto legislation that would help tens of thousands of vulnerable Americans like Susan. It’s a shameful commentary on the Obama White House’s priorities where hundreds of millions of dollars are being handed out to various bureaucratic tasks and pet projects like pickleball and massage therapy, but vulnerable Americans are left out in the cold. Today, we work to fix the administration’s broken promises, put patients ahead of bureaucrats, and provide folks like Susan a chance for care.

A sampling of some of the “high-priority activities” receiving funding under the Obama administration’s Prevention Fund or the program it supports that are taking precedence over Helping Sick Americans Now:

  • “Pickleball”
    Carteret County, North Carolina, shared a four-year $400,000 CTG grant funded by the health care law. Some of the county’s grant funding was used to promote Pickleball – a combination of tennis, badminton, and ping pong. More on the “sports craze” Pickleball here.
  • Massage Therapy, Kickboxing, Kayaking, and Zumba
    Waco, Texas, received a $235,000 CTG grant to offer residents massage therapy, aerobics classes, kickboxing, Zumba, kayaking, and paddle boarding. The Waco funding was from the $10 million CTG grant the Texas Department of State Health Services received.
  • Signage for Bike Lanes
    Pitt County, North Carolina, a recipient of a CPPW grant funded by health care law, used these federal taxpayer funds to place “signage to promote recreational destinations including public parks, bike lanes, and more.”
  • Promote Free Pet Neutering
    The City of Nashville, which received a $7.5 million “Communities Putting Prevention to Work” grant, promoted free pet spaying and neutering.
  • Urban Gardening
    The City of Boston received $1 million for “urban gardening.”
  • Lobby for Soda Tax
    The New York Department of Health used a $3 million taxpayer-funded grant to lobby for a soda tax initiative.
  • Block Construction of New Job-Creating Fast Food Small Businesses
    According to a presentation by CPPW Program Director Rebecca Bunnell, the program’s early “successes” resulted in a nine-month moratorium on fast food construction in Baldwin Park, California, and increased cigarette taxes in South Carolina.
  • Boosting Bike Clubs
    The Cascade Bicycle Club Education Foundation received a portion of the $3 million grant awarded to Seattle and King County Public Health and used the taxpayer dollars to “improve the walking and biking environment.”

The CDC’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work Program and Community Transformation Grant program have collectively received hundreds of millions of dollars of “prevention” fund money to date.

For more information on the Helping Sick Americans Now Act, H.R. 1549, click here.


Press Release