Politico, July 18, 2018
Dan Diamond

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The health department has quietly dipped into tens of millions of dollars to pay for the consequences of President Donald Trump’s border policy, angering advocates who want the money spent on medical research, rural health programs and other priorities.

The Department of Health and Human Services has burned through at least $40 million in the past two months for the care and reunification of migrant children separated from their families at the border — with housing costs recently estimated at about $1.5 million per day.

The ballooning costs have also prompted officials to prepare to shift more than $200 million from other HHS accounts, even as the White House weighs a request for additional funding for the Department of Homeland Security — a politically explosive move almost certain to antagonize fiscal hawks in the run-up to the midterm elections.

"We have a public health emergency like Ebola, Zika, hurricanes — except this one is man-made," said Emily Holubowich, executive director of the Coalition for Health Funding, who says HHS should request emergency funding too. "We should not be taking discretionary funding away from programs that need it."

HHS didn't respond to questions about spending on the crisis. [...]

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