Word came last week from the Obama administration that the Community Transformation Grant program will begin “very soon,” despite the discussion of federal budget freezes. Speaking at the Families USA Health Action conference, an official said the administration is committed to the grants. The program, authorized in the Affordable Care Act, is designed to promote innovative community strategies to prevent chronic diseases and address health disparities. Grants will be awarded on a competitive basis to state and local agencies, state and local nonprofits, tribes, and networks of community-based organizations.

The administration said the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is putting the final touches on a request for grant applications. No word yet on how big the program – or the individual grants – will be. Money for the grants is coming from the national Prevention Fund, established and funded with $15 billion over 10 years in the ACA. Because the Prevention Fund was already appropriated by Congress, it will not be subject to the spending freeze that the President announced on Tuesday night. However, the Fund could still be targeted for cuts by Republican members of Congress, who have previously tried to use it to pay for other priorities.

Other news you can use: keep your eye out for state-by-state fact sheets on Healthcare.gov detailing what the Prevention Fund is already paying for. These will be helpful in talking to Members of Congress about the importance of the Fund.

— Alice Dembner, Deputy Policy Director