Making the Case for Prevention to Policymakers and the Public
Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted yet again to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act—including the Prevention and Public Health Fund. While the bill will go nowhere in the Senate, the continual efforts to deride and repeal can weaken public support for both health reform and prevention.
Indeed, the Obama administration said last month it would cut about a third of the Prevention Fund’s 2013 budget—$332 million—to pay the costs of enrolling people in new health exchanges. The House also may vote soon to strip $3.6 billion from the Fund to extend short-term insurance for people with preexisting conditions. That’s why we need to keep speaking out in support of prevention and the Fund.
“It’s open season on the Prevention Fund—and business as usual for Washington,” writes PI Executive Director Larry Cohen in a commentary in theHill.com. He continues: “I believe the debate over the fund is premised on a false choice: that Americans must choose between caring for the sick and preventing chronic illness. This is wrong on every count.”
As prevention champions, we know that creating opportunities for good health is the best way to stem the rising tides of chronic disease and health care spending. But policymakers in Washington will continue to attack the Fund unless we make the case for prevention and demonstrate its critical role in improving our health and economy.
This week, we’re providing a close-read analysis on the kinds of talking points that help to successfully communicate the importance of prevention. We hope you’ll keep these frames in mind when you craft your next piece (and, as always, send us an email to let us know if your letter-to-the-editor, comment or Op-Ed is published!):
- Don’t just tell--show: Lawmakers need to “see” prevention in action. Be sure to describe how prevention spending is reshaping your community and creating opportunities for good health in schools, workplaces and neighborhoods.
- Use data to back up your case: The U.S. spends about $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, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention--conditions that are often preventable.
- Common sense isn’t that common in Congress: While the connections are clear, some policy makers might not understand how your prevention efforts are making a difference in the rising rates of preventable chronic diseases. Be sure to make the link for them.
- Make the economic case: Preventing chronic disease and injuries is much more cost-effective than treating them. One economic analysis estimated that an investment of $10 per person per year in programs to increase physical activity, improve nutrition, and prevent tobacco use could save the country more than $16 billion in annual healthcare costs within five years.