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PRINT | VIEW AS WEB PAGE  |  TELL A FRIEND    March 11, 2011
The Conversation on Prevention
Health Reform Rapid Response

Amidst the buzz about the federal budget, the Prevention and Public Health Fund is being singled out by those trying to strike down health reform generally. We have seen similar attempts before, and again your efforts are needed to educate the public and policymakers about community prevention. As the one-year anniversary of the passage of  the Affordable Care Act approaches, take this opportunity to send your congressperson a letter today, reminding them how important community prevention is: we’ve made it easy, with tailored emails that you can send directly to your legislators.

The stories:

The dominant theme employed by those opposed to the Prevention and Public Health Fund is: “slush fund.” Representative Michelle Bachmann has referred to all mandatory appropriations in the legislation, which includes the Prevention and Public Health Fund, as “a crime against democracy” (her claims were de-bunked in the Washington Post). Besides the talk, funding for prevention is in real danger. Here are the stories:

Tips to guide your conversation:

It is important to make sure that policymakers and the media understand that the Prevention and Public Health Fund has had a positive impact in your community. With all eyes on the budget, making the case for the cost savings of prevention can be especially powerful. As this business-focused piece from Indianapolis details, preventable chronic diseases cost businesses money, and preventing those diseases in the first place is good for business. Here’s how you can counter the negative framing:

  • With a high unemployment rate, concerns about the survival of small businesses, and a still struggling economy, people want to hear that any monetary investment is helping to create jobs, help small business and put/keep money in the local economy. Look for, collect and include these kinds of data and examples, quotes from local businesses etc, wherever you can. Here's one example: In Bartholomew County, Indiana, the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce has worked with two other local entities to create Reach Healthy Business, a workplace recognition program designed to support companies who are committed to creating a workplace that supports employee health. Says Chamber of Commerce president Jack Hess, “The two biggest costs grabbers for any business today are both health related—and that’s health insurance increases, but also the loss in productivity based on the treatment of health-related disease, such as employee absenteeism. The bottom line is this: a healthy community is one in which companies want to locate, businesses want to grow and expand, and the best workforce in the world wants to live.”

  • Talking point: Seven of ten deaths among Americans each year are caused by chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. These same chronic diseases account for more than 75% of our nation's health care spending. Community prevention dollars are working right now to alleviate some of these soaring costs—and improving health at the same time.

  • Talking point: At just $2 billion a year, the Prevention and Public Health fund is a smart investment that will pay off by building health, preventing people from getting sick in the first place.

  • Talking point: Supporters in Congress call prevention funding "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 in just five years. We simply can't fix our economy without it.

  • Data to include: Economic benefits, including new jobs created or kept; job training/leadership opportunities for youth; equipment upgraded or purchased for local businesses; jobs or business kept locally; promotion of local merchants, farmers; increased access to or utilization of local businesses and services; community re-investment or revitalization.

Here's what you can do:

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