Central Valley Lawmakers Lead Bi-Partisan Valley Fever Funding Effort
SACRAMENTO – Today, Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) and Assemblymember Vince Fong (R-Kern County) presented before the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services a proposal to appropriate $7 million dedicated to combating Valley Fever.
Together, Salas’ and Fong’s budget proposal asks for $3 million for a research grant to fund treatment, research and outreach at the Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical, and $1 million to be appropriated to CDPH for an outreach and awareness campaign to educate the public about Valley Fever. In addition, the budget request includes $3 million to be appropriated to the University of California system for Valley Fever research, which will be considered in the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance.
“Coming together across party lines to fight for Valley Fever and the thousands of families affected every year is just what the doctor ordered,” said Assemblymember Salas. “The number of people affected continues to grow statewide, and yet this disease has historically lacked the attention and resources it needs to be fully addressed. I am proud to be joined by my colleagues and advocates to continue to fight for funding for awareness and research.”
“Kern Medical has a long history caring for those suffering from Valley Fever, and has been a leader in providing high quality care for those impacted by the disease,” said Assemblymember Fong. “Our $3 million funding request continues to build this critical state and local partnership so that we are expanding access to quality care for so many patients in need of treatment due to Valley Fever.”
The budget proposal letter requesting $4 million for statewide outreach and research was signed by a bi-partisan coalition of over 30 legislators, signaling growing support for this issue. Experts, public health officials and advocates all have cited the need for raising awareness of Valley Fever among the public and health care providers. Studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of awareness as a key component in preventing and controlling the disease.
"Our region and our state have continued to see a rising number of cases of Valley Fever," said Matt Constantine, Director of the Kern County Department of Public Health. "It is critical that we dedicate additional resources toward educating the public about Valley Fever to help improve outcomes for Valley Fever patients and prevent infection whenever possible."
The budget proposal requesting $3 million for treatment, research and outreach at the Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical is an effort spearheaded by Fong, Salas and Senator Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) to bring funding to a leading Valley Fever research center that has the largest population of patients with Valley Fever. Currently, there are clinical research trials sponsored by the National Institute of Health taking place at the Valley Fever Institute dedicated to gaining insight into the effectiveness of early treatment with medication.
The budget proposal by Assemblymember Salas is a continuation of his efforts after Assembly Bill (AB) 1279 was vetoed by the Governor last year. AB 1279 sought to create an outreach and awareness campaign conducted by CDPH, but the Governor’s veto message stated that the awareness campaign “should be considered along with other funding requests as part of the budget process.”
In addition, Salas and Fong have joint authored a comprehensive legislative package aimed at preventing Valley Fever.
# # #
Assemblymember Salas represents part of the City of Bakersfield, the cities of Arvin, Avenal, Corcoran, Delano, Hanford, Lemoore, McFarland, Shafter, Wasco, and the communities of Armona, Buttonwillow, Home Garden, Kettleman City, Lamont, Lost Hills, Stratford and Weedpatch.