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Prevention Institute

Health Reform Rapid Response:
The conversation on prevention
March 23rd marked the one year anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act, and a significant step toward ensuring that the health system truly supports and protects health. The bill’s substantial prevention and wellness elements signal a national commitment to keeping people healthy in the first place. We'd like to celebrate the progress that prevention has made and the opportunities that lie ahead. This week CPPW sites across the country shared emerging examples of community prevention successes. We invite you to read Community Prevention and the Affordable Care Act: Local initiatives building the health, prosperity and vitality of America, detailing the importance of community prevention.

The stories:
Policymakers, the leaders of health organizations, and editorial boards all
voiced their support for prevention this week. While the one-year anniversary celebrations end today, all of our continued support for prevention is important. Here are the stories:

  • The patron saint of prevention”: That’s what Iowa’s former director of the state public health department dubbed Senator Harkin, who has fought tirelessly on behalf of the Prevention and Public Health Fund since the health reform debate began. Senator Harkin lauded the Fund: “[W]e'll have new emphasis on keeping people healthy, preventing illness and keeping them out of the hospital in the first place, which, I believe, will do more to cut costs in the future than any other single thing we've done."
  • In a Washington Post op-ed, Surgeon General and family physician Dr. Regina Benjamin highlighted the significance of taking a community prevention approach: “For years now, we have encouraged Americans to eat more nutritiously, exercise regularly and maintain healthier lifestyles. But for people to do these things, Americans need to live and work in environments that support their efforts. ” Her op-ed signifies the elevated role of prevention among officials shaping health policy.
  • This local paper’s editorial highlights the value that prevention offers to businesses. The managing editor who wrote the piece represents someone outside of the field of public health that truly understands and embraces the need to invest in community health.
  • The American Public Health Association voiced its strong support for prevention in the Affordable Care Act with its press release this week.
  • Trust for America’s Health’s Jeff Levi celebrated the prevention and wellness elements of the Affordable Care Act in a Huffington Post column, writing: “The Prevention Fund gives us a chance to shift the paradigm from a sick care system that focuses on treating disease after it happens to a health care system, where we keep people healthy in the first place”
  • Prevention Institute Executive Director Larry Cohen also expressed support for the historic investments in prevention in his Huffington Post column, “Prevention Works: Affordable Care Act is already building health where you live.” He writes: “We want children and parents to take for granted that the places they live, work, play, and learn are going to support them in healthy eating, physical activity and living smoke-free--not make it harder. Prevention is making that possible today.”

Tips to guide your conversation:

  • Prevention works--and it’s working right now. Across the country, communities are already using prevention money to build health. Community prevention is building our neighborhood infrastructure and the local economy; bike paths, pedestrian walkways and smart public transit make it easier and faster to shop at local businesses. Local business owners are getting equipment upgrades and publicity for their stores and products. Instead of shipping food in from out-of-state or out of the country, more of our kids are eating local foods, from local farmers, prepared right here in our community.
  • 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.
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