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Prevention Institute

Health Reform Rapid Response: March 22, 2013

As ACA Turns 3, Talk About What It’s Accomplished, Where We Need to Go 

Tomorrow marks the third anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the effort to shift our country from a focus on sick care toward a system that advances health and wellness in the first place, saving money and lives. But we know that passing the law was only the beginning, and that to truly reform our healthcare system we must embrace prevention and work actively to implement it.

The ACA anniversary falls just days after Congress passed a six-month budget extension to avoid a government shutdown. Unfortunately, lawmakers left the devastating cuts imposed by sequestration mostly intact -- and the calls have already begun to strip funding from ACA in the next budget. Now more than ever, Congress needs to hear how prevention aligns with our national values -- especially the value of fiscal responsibility. 

The occasion also gives prevention champions a unique opportunity to garner media coverage for the Prevention and Public Health Fund and community prevention initiatives. This week, we’re bringing you tips for how to write an op-ed or letter to the editor -- key ways to educate lawmakers and the public on why federal investments in prevention must be a top priority. In addition, we’ve made it easy for you to send a letter directly to your legislators and voice your support for continued investment in the Prevention and Public Health Fund.

Tips for getting your op-ed placed

  • Keep it short and sharp. Opinion pieces usually run between 500-600 words; letters to the editor and emails to legislators are usually 200 words or less. Make sure your piece gets to the heart of your message in the lead paragraph, and keep your message tight. Here are the headline talking points:
    • If we’re serious about fiscal responsibility, we need to invest in prevention. Every dollar we invest in prevention generates five dollars in savings down the road. Investments in comprehensive prevention bend the cost curve and stem the rising tide of expenditures on preventable chronic diseases.
    • True health reform means providing access to affordable, high-quality care and creating environments that keep people healthy and safe. To shift our country from a focus on sick care to a system that advances health and wellness, we must increase access and improve care while ensuring that our communities and workplaces environments keep us healthy in the first place.
    • Investing in prevention is an investment in everyone’s future. Health inequities put low-income communities and communities of color most at risk. The Prevention and Public Health Fund brings prevention to underserved communities to help foster health, not disease. Without these meaningful investments in prevention, we’ll all be left behind.
    • Cutting funds for public health and prevention takes away the opportunity for millions of Americans to lead healthy lives. ACA’s prevention measures have supported communities across the county to change their environments as they create safe, walkable streets, promote access to healthy food, support local worksite wellness, and safeguard tobacco-free air -- exactly the changes that can improve our country’s health.
  • Make it relevant and newsworthy. Has your community prevention effort changed health outcomes, saved money, fostered new coalitions or lifted up local voices? Is it an important new tool to address state or local healthcare costs? Is it bringing new business investments to your community? Are there new or important findings connected to your work -- such as just-released data on county health rankings?
  • Consider a co-author. A co-author can offer a different point of view and may enhance your organization's credibility. A business leader, faith leader, or community member can make your piece more publishable and relevant to a broader audience.
  • Submit online, then follow up with a call. It’s fine to use the online submission form but a phone call to the opinions editor will increase your chances of placing a piece. Call the main number, ask for the opinions editor and explain why your piece is timely, relevant and unique. Offer to edit your piece to garner placement. You can only submit an opinions piece to one venue at a time—tell them you’d like to hear back from them within a few days so that you can submit somewhere else if necessary.
  • Use our communications tools: Browse our free resources, designed to help you frame your op-ed.

Here are some examples of current prevention stories in the media that capitalize on ACA’s anniversary:

  • Public Health Newswire: Bridging Clinical Medicine and Public Health: This piece is part of a series being published by Public Health Newswire to commemorate the third anniversary of ACA: “The Prevention and Public Health Fund established under the ACA represents a genuine opportunity to change this dynamic. We can demonstrate how local health departments can be the eyes and ears of the health care system, outside the walls of hospitals and community health centers, working as extenders in the neighborhoods and homes of their patients.”
  • Huffington Post: And Many Happy Returns: The Affordable Care Act Turns Three: By tying together medical care and community prevention, this piece demonstrates the success of ACA’s prevention programs: “The ACA supports common-sense community approaches focused on connecting the care people receive in the doctor's office with opportunities to stay healthier beyond the doctor's office, where we all live, learn, work and play.”

What you can do

  • Write a letter to the editor or post a comment on a news story in support of public health and prevention funding. Send us an email if you get published, and we’ll include it in our next Rapid Response.
  • Practice framing your prevention work in terms of fiscal responsibility by using our online tool to contact your legislator and tell them why you oppose additional cuts to public health and the Prevention and Public Health Fund.

Share your prevention successes on Twitter

Using #ACAturns3 as a hashtag, join us today at @preventioninst and tweet in support of the Affordable Care Act and The Prevention and Public Health Fund.

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