Health Reform Rapid Response: the conversation on prevention
The Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) newly released report, “For the Public’s Health: Investing in a Healthier Future,” reinforces what prevention advocates already know: Quality, affordable medical care and community prevention work hand-in-hand. The authors call for doubling our nation’s current investment in prevention and public health from approximately $12 billion to $24 billion—still a mere drop in the bucket compared to the nearly $2.5 trillion we spend on health care. With stable funding, community prevention efforts will be able to better support the health care delivery system—improving overall population health and bending the cost curve by reducing the need for medical services in the first place—and advance the health and well-being of our nation.
This week, we highlight several stories that reinforce the IOM’s message: public health is not separate from health care delivery. We hope you will join this chorus of voices, partner with a local health care provider, and pen your own op-ed or blog post to promote and advance the integration of clinical care and community prevention.
- American Medical News reports on the IOM report’s release in “Primary care and public health encouraged to work together.” IOM committee Chair Dr. Paul J. Wallace appeals to our “can-do” spirit to advance integration of clinical care and community prevention: “While integrating fields that have long operated separately may seem like a daunting endeavor, our nation has undertaken many major initiatives…It’s time we did the same for primary care and public health, which together form the foundation of our population’s overall well-being.” Dr. Wallace also identifies “[c]hronic disease prevention and treatment…[as] a key area where collaboration could improve the health of communities across the county.”
- In the Huffington Post, “Linking Healthy Hospitals with Healthy Communities and a Healthy Planet,” Health Care Without Harm President Gary Cohen urges the health care sector to expand its focus beyond the four walls of the doctor’s office: “From both an economic and public health perspective, it is no longer viable to simply focus on treatment of these and other chronic diseases…We need to prevent them from happening in the first place… At this critical point in history, when our nation is crippled with illness and our planet is under extreme stress, we need the health care sector to use its power and fulfill its mission of saving lives by healing not only our bodies, but our environment and communities as well.”
- In the Boston Globe, “Health care vs. sick care: Why prevention is essential to payment reform,” Mayor Thomas Menino and Dr. Paula Johnson co-author a piece that makes the case for how prevention and health care go hand-in-hand to reduce costs and health disparities: “Evidence-based prevention strategies focused on preventable illnesses will complement payment reform, are essential to reducing overall costs and will provide a better quality of life for our residents… By targeting these strategies to the communities with the highest burdens of diabetes, we can also make significant progress to reduce our state’s unacceptable health disparities.” The duo also effectively addresses the recent cuts in the Prevention and Public Health Fund: “Eliminating critical and promising community prevention funding was a huge disappointment, and a real setback to programs that successfully cut health care costs.”
- Over at the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune, Editor Cal Thomas in “Health care should focus on prevention” identifies the “focus on tertiary prevention [as] the driving force behind rising health care costs” before calling on political leaders to stand up for and advance prevention in health care: “What is needed is political leadership…Disease does not discriminate…It is rare when an issue has no political negatives attached to it and finding cures for diseases is one of them.”
Tips to Guide your Conversation
Prevention Institute has developed an entire range of communications tools and resources to help you frame your community prevention successes, including a sample op-ed. Here are some of the most effective talking points for making the case that community prevention and health care delivery go hand-in-hand:
- We can make our health care system healthier with prevention. Prevention provides a landmark opportunity to create a system that truly promotes health. The US spends more per capita on health care expenditures than many other developing countries yet consistently lags in health outcomes. Prevention promotes health care, not sick care.
- Healthy people live in healthy, safe and equitable communities. Almost nothing affects our health as profoundly as the places we live. People thrive when they have jobs and live in communities with safe affordable housing. They thrive when they have easy access to parks, playgrounds, and grocery stores selling nutritious food. Healthy communities provide the foundation and context for healthy behaviors and outcomes. Community prevention makes that possible.
- The public wants prevention. Prevention was one of the earliest implemented parts of health reform because there is a groundswell of public support for prevention. 73% of Americans support investing in prevention.
What you can do