The Institute for Medicine today published a discussion paper authored by PI’s Larry Cohen and Dr. Anthony Iton, senior vice president of The California Endowment. The paper, Closing the Loop: Why We Need to Invest—and Reinvest—in Prevention, is aimed at catalyzing conversation about new ways to create sustainable funding mechanisms that support prevention and reduce healthcare costs. Read the paper here.
There’s a growing consensus among policymakers and health planners that if we want to improve health outcomes and lower costs we must change community conditions in ways that support health and prevent illness and injury before they occur. In their article, Larry and Tony outline some of the essential elements of a sustainable funding mechanism. They argue that we need to “close the loop” by ensuring that when prevention efforts DO save money, substantial portions of that money get plowed back into prevention. While many payment strategies rely on healthcare to foot the bill for emerging prevention efforts, a closing-the-loop strategy would ensure that much of the funding for prevention could emerge from taxes, fees, legal settlements and other measures, reducing the burden on health care. The paper begins on a provocative note:
“What would you say about an investment that returned 5,500 percent? If you were lucky enough to have made the investment, you’d probably look for ways to reinvest most of it to earn more of those hefty returns.”
They point to a fascinating study released last year by UC-San Francisco researchers, which found that California invested $2.4 billion from cigarette taxes into the state’s tobacco control program—and got a whopping $134 billion return—5500 percent—in the form of reduced medical expenditures. And yet, as the paper points out, very little of that $134 billion in savings went back into further efforts to prevent smoking. That needs to change.
We hope you’ll read the paper, think about it and share it with your colleagues and friends. We’d like to know your thoughts. An excerpt of this paper has also been posted as a Guest Voice at Community Commons and you can share your comments there. If you’re active on social media, please think about posting a link to the article and the Community Commons blog and sending out some tweets. Here are a couple of sample tweets you’re free to use or modify:
- Invest. Prevent. Save. Reinvest. Closing the loop for health. Read new IOM paper from @preventioninst @CalEndow www.iom.edu/closingtheloop
- Close the loop on savings from #prevention and #phealth! New paper from @theIOM roundtable & @preventioninst: www.iom.edu/closingtheloop