Remind Congress: An Ounce of Prevention Can Save a Pound of Deficit
In the aftermath of this month’s elections, it’s clear that the Affordable Care Act is here to stay. What’s at risk now are the very elements that give the law the best chance to truly transform the U.S. health system.
According to a recent story in Talking Points Memo, opponents of the law are targeting three components of the Act as candidates for cuts in negotiations over the so-called fiscal cliff. Target No. 1, according to TPM, is the Prevention and Public Health Fund, the biggest effort ever by the federal government to help communities combat disease by promoting wellness and prevention. A second target is the newly created Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, an effort to stimulate new ways of delivering health care at lower costs.
These programs are bearing fruit. The Innovation Center is helping health systems redesign to integrate community prevention as part of their basic program. The Prevention Fund is helping research laboratories track disease and children get vaccinated. It’s assisting officials and residents in Nashville, a city with sky-high rates of diabetes, create new exercise programs. It’s helping the health department of Tuolomne County, California, work with local residents to develop plans for reducing exposure to secondhand smoke. This week, in a series of articles at Forbes.com, PI’s Rob Waters is showcasing some of the ways those funds are being used by communities across the country.
This work is too important to be cut and Americans seem to understand that. They now oppose repealing the Affordable Care Act by a 16-percent margin, according to the Kaiser Family Fund, and 55 percent think it’s important for federal programs to “address health risks associated with” obesity and smoking, according to a recent Gallup poll.
The Fund gives communities the chance to reduce the incidence of costly conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. We urge President Obama and Congressional leaders to remember that cutting funding for prevention is shortsighted and ultimately wasteful. Please join us in telling the President and Congressional leaders: “Don’t fold a winning hand. An ounce of prevention can save a pound of deficit.”