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PRINT | VIEW AS WEB PAGE  |  TELL A FRIEND   November 11, 2010
The Conversation on Prevention
Health Reform Rapid Response

Now that the election is over, speculations about the new congressional power structure--and several leaders' vocal calls for health reform's repeal-- are making headlines. Still, strong support for the prevention and wellness elements of the health reform bill exist both in Congress and the federal administration. This week, we're looking at how the change-up in Congress might impact prevention.

The Stories

The top post-election conversation has been about the future of health care reform. The bottom line: full repeal is unlikely, but individual elements of the Affordable Care Act will be vulnerable, and according to outlets including the New York Times, Congress will likely try to use the ‘power of the purse’ to withhold funds as a means of stopping implementation. As the stories below indicate, the Prevention and Public Health Fund could well be one of the early targets. There have been a number of stories published; here are a few to provide an overview:

  • What does a Republican House mean for health care reform? Is repeal realistic? In this PBS News Hour discussion, Executive Director of Families USA Ron Pollack explains, "Number one, you can't get repeal through the United States Senate. There are at least 52, probably 53, Democrats in the Senate. They're not going to vote for repeal. You may need 60 votes in order to pass something that's so controversial in the Senate."
  • Election Analysis: What it means for health care reform. Aware that a full repeal is unlikely over the next two years, opponents may "use the next two years to relay to the American public through Congressional hearings and legislative activity that in order for changes to be enacted to the Affordable Care Act, a Republican president must be elected in 2012." This article identifies the Prevention and Public Health Fund as a likely target.
  • Harkin warns: No repeal or defunding healthcare reform on my committees. Senator Harkin, whose role as Chairman of both the Senate Health Committee and the Appropriations health subpanel makes him well-poised to defend the Affordable Care Act, emphasizes that many elements of the bill are very popular: "Frankly, I don’t think working Americans will stand for a Republican crusade to take away the benefits and protections in the new health reform law."
  • A roadmap to repeal and reform. On conservative blogs, the bill's prevention and wellness funds continue to be a target: "Congress can cut the duplicative pork and payoffs to special interests embedded in the law: The Prevention and Public Health Fund ($1.5 billion per year); the mental illness demonstration grants that emphasize individual wellness ($150 million); the "community wellness demonstration program," the "individual wellness demonstration program" and (if you can believe it) workplace wellness grants ($200 million!)."

Clearly, this month's election has already reopened debate and questions about health reform. It is important that the popularity, and cost-savings, associated with the prevention elements of the bill are heard. At a time when some are attempting to sell health reform as a "big spending" bill, it is more important than ever to highlight the cost-savings associated with investments in prevention.

Talking points to guide your conversation:

  • Prevention works--and it’s working right now. Across the country, communities are already using prevention money to build health. In Boehner's home state of Ohio  22% of third graders in Hamilton County are overweight. The Cincinnati Public School System has already implemented new guidelines to make school foods more nutritious. That means that 34,000 children will be eating healthier, just in Cincinnati. It just wouldn't be right for legislators to take away the funds their communties are already using to make kids healthier.
  • 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.
  • Prevention saves money. At just $2 billion a year, the Prevention and Public Health fund is a smart investment that will pay off by building health, preventing many of high-cost chronic diseases in the first place. Supporters in Congress call the prevention fund "one of the most significant cost controls in the [health care] legislation." For every dollar we spend on prevention, we see a five-to-one return on investment. We simply can't fix our economy without it.

Here's what you can do:

  • This is an opportune moment to contact all of  your elected officials and tell them that prevention and wellness provisions in health reform must be carried out as promised. Remember that committee leadership is likely to change, as well.
  • Write a blog, op-ed or letter to the editor of your local paper.
  • Have a successful example of community prevention in action? Please share it with us so we can include it in our talking points.
  • Visit our Health Reform Advocacy page for more information.

Thanks for staying involved!

Using our talking points? Let us know! Email us with your feedback, leads on relevant stories and comments.

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