Health Reform Rapid Response: The conversation on prevention
Last week, automatic federal spending cuts known as sequestration went into effect. Originally envisioned as a mechanism to force Congress to agree on a balanced approach to deficit reduction, sequestration will slash the Prevention and Public Health Fund by $51 million annually and cut more than $26 billion from affordable housing, parks and recreation, and other programs that improve our health -- unless Congress takes responsible action now.
On top of these devastating cuts, some members of Congress have called for further cuts to the Prevention and Public Health Fund in order to find money for the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP). Both funds are vital to achieving a true health system; however, pitting the Prevention and Public Health Fund against the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan is ultimately a short-sighted strategy that will only hurt our country’s health, as we know that prevention is instrumental in lowering healthcare demands and costs. Instead, we need Congress to find a real, commonsense solution to deficit reduction -- one that moves our country towards a system that improves health, saves lives, reduces costs and strengthens our country. Further cuts to this crucial funding will only saddle our children and grandchildren with poorer health and even higher healthcare costs.
Congress needs to hear how much prevention matters to your community. We’ve created an easy, yet powerful way for you to contact your representatives and ask that they stand up for the Prevention and Public Health Fund. We've made it easy, with a short letter that you can send with one click. It will take you just two minutes, but it could make all the difference in protecting this critical and unique funding.
This week, we’re bringing you examples of media coverage that helps make the case for keeping the Prevention and Public Health Fund intact.
- RollCall: 'Primary Prevention' Two Important Words for Policymakers: This article makes the case for primary prevention as a powerful way to reduce long-term health care spending by improving the nation’s health. “Not to be confused with health screenings and early diagnosis — which do matter in the effective treatment of many illnesses — primary prevention encompasses healthy lifestyle practices that deter diseases before they start. This is where we save lives, improve quality of life and avoid preventable health care spending.”
- Huffington Post: Advancing the Public Health System by Defining the Foundational Capabilities of Public Health: This piece makes the case for how Prevention and Public Health Fund programs like Community Transformation Grants (CTGs) can help public health officials transform the health of their communities. “Public health officials must capitalize on the many opportunities, including CTGs, to promote health and wellness where Americans live, learn, work and play... With adequate resources and appropriate capabilities, public health can lead communities toward comprehensive health care systems that help people get and stay as healthy as they want.”
- Asian Week: Message to Congress: Don’t Cut AA and NHPI Communities Short: Communities of color are often most impacted by preventable chronic disease and injury. Asian Week calls on lawmakers to avoid cuts in prevention. “The ACA’s Prevention and Public Health Fund, has already funded community research and programs to combat chronic diseases... diseases that disproportionately impact AAs [Asian Americans’] and NHPIs [Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders] and other communities of color... Lawmakers cannot short change our nation’s future and the health of AA and NHPI communities in exchange for a deal that is unbalanced and unfair.”
- Kentucky.com: Health-care act will usher in meaningful reforms: Cutting prevention threatens our country’s health in the long run. “Congress threatens to eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund that provides grants to states and communities to reduce chronic disease, improve nutrition and increase physical activity. The fund also strengthens the primary care safety net, prevention research centers, public health workforce, laboratory infrastructure, breast and cervical cancer screening and all the other safety-net and preventive activities that sustain population health and reduce system cost. We lose the Prevention and Public Health Fund, and we lose the health game in the long run.”
Tips to guide your conversation:
- Quality, affordable medical care and community prevention work hand-in-hand. Pitting the Prevention and Public Health Fund against the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan is an unfair and short-sighted strategy that will only hurt our country’s health -- and economy -- in the long run.
- We can’t afford not to invest in prevention. Preventable illness and chronic disease related to food and activity accounts for nearly 17% of our health care costs —that’s $168 million a year in medical costs alone.
- Every dollar we divert from prevention will cost us as much as five dollars down the road. By reducing expenditures and reducing the need for healthcare services in the first place, investments in comprehensive prevention bend the cost curve and stem the rising tide of expenditures on preventable chronic diseases.
What you can do
- Use our online tool to contact your legislators directly, and tell them why you oppose additional cuts to the Prevention and Public Health Fund.
- Write a Letter to the Editor or post a comment on a news story in support of public health and prevention funding. Send us an email if you get published, and we’ll include it in our next Rapid Response.
- Visit our Health Reform Advocacy page for additional tips on how to frame your community successes.