The Conversation on Prevention
Over the past few weeks, the House of Representatives put forth the 33rd vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and the House Appropriations Committee released a proposal to slash or eliminate funding for a broad slate of vital health programs. Politico labeled the House Appropriations Committee’s proposal “death by 1,000 cuts.” The proposal, whose full committee markup has been indefinitely postponed, singled out the Prevention and Public Health Fund for repeal, and called for steep cuts to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, which has the potential to pioneer new linkages between health care and community prevention.
These latest attempts to defund or repeal investments in public health and prevention stand in stark contrast to what we know about the Affordable Care Act’s impact on health and wellbeing as well as the economy. A recent Gallup poll shows that the majority of Americans say it is extremely or very important for the federal government to invest in prevention programs that address the health risks associated with obesity (57%) and smoking (55%). And just this week, the Congressional Budget Office released estimates that repealing the Affordable Care Act would raise the deficit by $109 billion between 2013 and 2022, demonstrating the Affordable Care Act’s role in controlling costs.
Improving the places where people live, learn, work and play keeps people from becoming sick or injured in the first place. Health reform can only fulfill its promise to increase America’s health and control costs through investments in community prevention, like the Prevention and Public Health Fund. As American Public Health Association’s executive director Georges Benjamin said on the proposed House cuts last week, “This measure undercuts our efforts in communities across the country to promote health and prevent disease. The long-term medical and human costs will far outweigh any short-term savings... What will it take for Congress to recognize this growing crisis and begin to work together to protect the health of Americans?”
Investments in prevention remain quite vulnerable and highlights why we, as advocates and members of communities that benefit from community prevention, must continue to make our voices heard. This week, we’re bringing you talking points to help you make the human and economic case for community prevention:
Tips to guide your conversation
- True health reform hinges on community prevention. The Affordable Care Act will not achieve its full potential to improve America’s health without sustaining and expanding investments in prevention and public health. By improving the places where people live, learn, work and play, community prevention keeps people from becoming sick or injured, in the first place.
- The Prevention and Public Health Fund’s unprecedented investment in community-based prevention has already saved money and lives. Community prevention funding is a smart investment that will pay off by building health. Supporters in Congress call prevention funding "one of the most significant cost controls in the health care legislation.” For every dollar we spend on prevention, we see a five-to-one return on investment in just five years. We simply can’t fix our economy without it.
- We deserve a health system that supports health, in the first place. Sadly, these latest attacks against the Prevention and Public Health Fund are nothing new--but gutting programs that are vital to improving America’s health won’t solve the problems of preventable illnesses, injuries and deaths, or our country’s spiraling health care costs. We need our representatives to put health above politics, and work together to ensure that Americans benefit from investments and innovations in health reform.
- The American people want prevention. 73% of the public support resources that go to community prevention initiatives. Even when community prevention efforts are tied to higher taxes, the majority of the public still favors them--and support is even stronger for the kinds of efforts federal legislation is focused on right now: bringing more fresh fruits and vegetables into our stores, providing healthier lunches for kids, and protecting our communities and children from tobacco. These strategies protect the health of children and families.
What you can do:
- Join Prevention Institute, the American Public Health Association, Trust for America’s Health, Public Health Institute, and PolicyLink for a Dialogues4Health web forum on The Road Ahead for Public Health and the Prevention Fund: Action for the Summer Recess. This web forum will take place Tuesday, July 31, from 11:30AM to 12:30PM PDT. Register now.
- Write a blog, op-ed or letter to the editor of your local paper. Browse our media advocacy kit for tips.
- Have a successful example of community prevention in action? Please share it with us so we can include it in our talking points.
- Visit our Health Reform Advocacy page for more information.