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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Preventive Health and Health Services (PHHS) Block Grant?

The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981 (Public Law 97-35) authorized a series of health and social services block grants to states to carry out programs that were previously authorized separately. The final version was signed into law on August 13, 1981, amending the PHS Act to create the PHHS Block Grant. The PHHS Block Grant is a mandatory grant given to 61 grantees (50 states, the District of Columbia, 2 American Indian Tribes, and the 8 U.S. Territories) by Congress annually.

The original legislation placed in the PHHS Block Grant the following categorical programs:

  • Emergency Medical Services.
  • Hypertension.
  • Home Health Services.
  • Health Incentive Grants (314d).
  • Urban Rodent Control.
  • Health Education/Risk Reduction.
  • Fluoridation.

On October 27, 1992, (Public Law 102-531), established a number of significant changes to Section 1905 of the PHHS block grant. The new legislation mandated that the PHHSBG be solely devoted to Healthy People 2000/2010, the nation’s health objectives. The grant required the states to submit a state health plan with selected health outcome objectives, descriptions of the health problems, identified target and disparate populations, and activities to be addressed.

During FY 1996, Public Law 102-531, was amended by adding a new Section 1910A use of allotments for rape prevention and education. This amendment authorized additional monies for rape prevention and education programs with 25% of the monies targeted to middle, junior, and high school students for education programs.

On October 28, 2000, Public Law 102-531 was amended by repealing Section 1910A from the PHHS block grant. This amendment became Public Law 106-386 and authorized monies for rape prevention and education programs to be administered through the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

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How do states, territories, and tribes use the PHHS Block Grant?

The Block Grant is the primary source of flexible funding that provides states the latitude to fund any of 1,600+ national health objectives available in the nation’s Healthy People 2020 health improvement plan.

The PHHS Block Grant is used to support clinical services, preventive screening, laboratory support, outbreak control, workforce training, public education, data surveillance, and program evaluation targeting such health problems as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, emergency medical services, injury and violence prevention, infectious disease, environmental health, community fluoridation, and sex offenses. Because of the variance in the allowable uses of the funds, no two states allocate their Block Grant resources in the same way, and no two states provide similar amounts of funding to the same program or activities.

A strong emphasis is being placed on adolescents, communities with little or poor health care services, and disadvantaged populations. The states depend on the Block Grant to support public health funding where no other adequate resources are available.

States invest their PHHS Block Grant dollars in a variety of public health areas. PHHS Block Grant dollars are used to support existing programs, implement new programs, and respond to unexpected emergencies. The PHHS Block Grant contributes to the following activities:

  • Developing performance standards for local boards of health to establish consistent rules for governing the practice and performance of local health departments.
  • Developing and implementing seven teaching modules called the Core Essentials of Public Health: Applications for Public Health Nursing in Minnesota.
  • Developing an educational campaign for dengue fever in Hawaii.
  • Enhancing laboratory surveillance technologies to provide the rapid identification of causative agents in New York.
  • Supporting approximately 32 states to create intervention strategies to improve individual lifestyle behaviors regarding nutrition, physical activity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
  • Providing support for communities to develop and review health assessments.
  • Supporting the review and evaluation of Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data within states to monitor health status and develop health media campaigns to increase awareness for healthier living.
  • Providing support to Governor’s councils on Physical Fitness and Sports campaigns and health events.
  • Implementing walking trails and walking programs.
  • Establishing data and surveillance systems to monitor health status and track the leading health indicators.
  • Providing child safety seats and inspections at check sites for proper installation.
  • Providing bicycle helmets.
  • Training emergency medical service providers.
  • Providing funding support for screening services to people for hypertension, cholesterol, diabetes, cancers, and infectious diseases for underserved and uninsured populations.
  • Fluoridating of community water systems.


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