Prevention, Health Reform Under Attack—Again. Join Our Rapid Response Team
When the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, it set up something unusually far-thinking by Washington standards: an ongoing source of funds dedicated to promoting health and preventing illness before it occurs. In three short years, the Prevention and Public Health Fund has provided support to immunize children, reduce chronic disease and help communities across the country develop plans to improve the health of residents. Yet the Fund has come under relentless attack, and from many quarters.
This Thursday, the House of Representatives will vote yet again on a proposal to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act—including the Prevention Fund. The Obama administration said last month it would cut about a third of the Fund’s 2013 budget—$332 million—to pay the costs of enrolling people in new health exchanges. The House may soon vote to strip $3.6 billion from the Fund to extend short-term insurance for people with preexisting conditions.
All these actions pit short-term healthcare needs against a long-term focus on prevention and wellness. And they do nothing to help the U.S. solve its fundamental healthcare problem, namely that we spend $2.7 trillion a year on healthcare and three-quarters of that is spent treating chronic conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer that often can be prevented.
“But we can change this picture,” argues Prevention Institute’s Larry Cohen in a commentary published this morning at TheHill.com. Larry writes:
“Over the past three years, grants from the Prevention Fund and other sources have helped cities across the country take important steps to improve the health of their residents. Nashville, a city with one of the highest rates of diabetes in the country, created bike-friendly greenways and running paths and pulled high-fat junk food from school vending machines. San Antonio set up salad bars in school cafeterias and exercise equipment in parks. Hernando, Mississippi, added walking trails and playgrounds, built a community garden and started a weekly farmers’ market.”
While the latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act is unlikely to clear both Houses of Congress, the continuing threats to the Prevention Fund demonstrate what prevention advocates are up against. And the risks may rise as we head toward the 2014 elections.
If you haven’t already, we invite you to become part of the prevention advocacy movement by joining our rapid response network. We’ll send you weekly updates and news on national prevention funding, as well as tips and tools that can help you be an effective prevention activist and a savvy media advocate that writes powerful letters to the editor and persuasive Op-Eds. We need your help to make sure that the core message of community prevention—that it builds health and can lower costs—doesn’t get lost.