Who will defend prevention when Senator Harkin retires?
This week the Obama Administration signaled its intent to raid the Prevention and Public Health Fund to help cover the costs of running federal health exchanges unless Congress approves additional funding for fiscal year 2014 -- a scenario that is unlikely to happen. While it’s clear that the Administration is in difficult position, trading away public health investments should not be the starting point for budget negotiations with Congress.
The announcement by Administration health officials flabbergasted Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, a long-time prevention champion. “Robbing prevention when we know these efforts can reduce chronic disease and lower healthcare costs goes against the very mission of health care reform,” said Harkin, who reminded the Obama administration of its pledge not to raid the fund.
Senator Harkin’s staunch support for prevention will sorely be missed when he retires next year. Harkin’s retirement leaves prevention funding especially vulnerable. We need your help to cultivate new prevention champions in Congress. Use our online tool to contact your legislator
and tell them why the Prevention and Public Health Fund is worth saving -- a modest investment now means healthier, thriving communities in the long run.
Here are some talking points to guide your conversation:
- Prevention helps decreases health care costs by making sure people don't get sick, in the first place. The fact is, preventing disease and injury before they occur is the smart way to ensure good health. When we use our collective resources to create environments for children and families -- neighborhoods, schools, childcare centers, and workplaces -- that support health, wellbeing, and safety, that's when we are at our best in school, at work, and with each other.
- If we’re serious about fiscal responsibility, we need to invest in prevention. Every dollar we invest in prevention generates over five dollars in savings down the road. Investments in comprehensive prevention bend the cost curve and stem the rising tide of expenditures on preventable chronic diseases.
- Investing in prevention is an investment in everyone’s future. Health inequities put low-income communities and communities of color most at risk. The Prevention and Public Health Fund brings prevention to underserved communities to help foster health, not disease. Without these meaningful investments in prevention, we’ll all be left behind.
- Prevention is good for businesses’ bottom lines. Right now, local businesses spend $153 billion each year on chronic diseases that are preventable -- money that could instead be spent to hire more workers, reinvest in the business, and support a vibrant, healthy workforce. Investing in prevention isn’t just good for our health, it’s good for business, too.