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Prevention Institute

Health Reform Rapid Response:
The Conversation on Prevention

This week, amidst heated debate over the budget, the House Energy and Commerce Committee moved forward with a resolution to defund the Prevention and Public Health Fund. The resolution must pass on the House floor before it moves on to the Senate, were it is unlikely to pass. Despite the resolution’s dubious future, the public scrutiny of the Fund over the past two weeks has presented an opportunity for the Fund’s opponents and supporters alike to make their case. Below, we present some of the strongest prevention champions as well as some of this week’s highest profile arguments in opposition to the Fund.

Here are the stories:

In a blog post titled “ObamaCare’s big bucks,” Jeff Stier, a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, attacks the Prevention and Public Health Fund and some community prevention efforts it supports, calling them “questionable programs, like giving free incentive refrigerators to convenience store owners.”
Not your mother’s public health: An Orange County, CA op-ed argues that policy and environmental changes that support healthy eating represent government overreach.  
Pants on fire: A politifact piece responds emphatically to the assertion that the Prevention and Public Health Fund is “slush,” explaining: “[the Fund is] designated for programs specifically defined by the law, which hardly makes them illicit and unregulated.” The author concludes that the “slush fund label is not only inaccurate, but ridiculous. On the Truth-O-Meter, that rates a Pants on Fire.”
The Director of the Ohio Department of Health, Dr. Theodorre Wymyslo, wrote a compelling column in support of increased investment in prevention for a Cincinnati paper.
In Hawaii, Maui County’s Mayor wrote a column in support of prevention and workplace wellness initiatives. The column makes a strong economic case for investing in low-cost prevention initiatives, like working with vending machine suppliers to ensure that employees have convenient access to healthy foods.
Former president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Judith Palfrey, put it well in her Huffington Post column this week: “In supporting the Prevention and Public Health Fund, we now have the best chance we've ever had to take advantage of what we already know: prevention works.”

Tips to guide your conversation:

Public health has a long, proud history of using policy and practice change to impact health. These talking points emphasize that connection.
  • Healthy people live in healthy, safe and equitable communities. Almost nothing affects our health as profoundly as the places we live. People thrive when they have jobs and live in communities with safe affordable housing. They thrive when they have easy access to parks, playgrounds, and grocery stores selling nutritious food. Healthy communities provide the foundation and context for healthy behaviors and outcomes. Community prevention makes that possible.
  • Every time you buckle your child into a car seat, you’re practicing community prevention: policies help protect our health, and they help shape our expectations. Kids didn’t use to be automatically put in car seats—parents couldn’t buy them or afford them, cars didn’t accommodate them, and our culture didn’t support them. Our country worked together along with businesses, local government and families, using policy to encourage car seat use. That’s the same kind of shift community prevention inspires. 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 tobacco-free—not make it harder.
  • 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.

Here's what you can do:

When you speak about prevention, the media and policymakers pay attention; TheHill.com, widely read by legislators and their staff, mentioned the defense of the Prevention Fund this week.

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