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Prevention Institute

Health Reform Rapid Response: July 12, 2013

New Research Says We're Living Longer but Sicker—Another Chance to Make the Case for Prevention

Americans are living longer, but we’re also living sicker—with persistent, preventable conditions like diabetes and injuries from falls. So says a recent study in the Journal of American Medicine that’s been getting press this week (here, here, and here). The study also found that while the U.S. has made strides in improving public health over the last 20 years, we are lagging far behind other wealthy countries in our overall health and life expectancy, despite the fact that we spend more on healthcare than any other country.

This study, and the reporting on it, is a key opportunity to make news on how prevention presents the best opportunity to curb the staggering rise of chronic diseases which claim as many as seven in ten lives in this country. This study is an ideal newsworthy hook to keep the value of prevention in the public eye.

Others around the web are finding creative ways to do just that. Check out a few articles, op-eds and blog posts we’ve come across this week that shine the spotlight on the importance of prevention:

  • A newspaper in Stockton, CA published an article this week that sets the record straight about the use of funds from the Prevention and Public Health Fund: “The Prevention Fund invests in programs that are proven and effective. Oversight and evaluation is a key component of every fund-sponsored program, and strict performance measures ensure accountability before federal dollars are spent.”
  • An op-ed in Health Policy Forum titled, The Truth about the Prevention Fund, makes the case that the Prevention and Public Health Fund is working to improve the health of Americans: “The Prevention Fund is the best and most targeted effort the nation has made toward getting the health of this country back on track.”
  • CDC Director Tom Frieden’s Huffington Post op-ed, Progress in Prevention Since 2010, highlights key success stories from the implementation of the National Prevention Strategy, which is “advancing prevention, saving lives and moving our system from a sick care system toward a true health care system.”
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius made a blog post this week on the ways that the Affordable Care Act goes beyond insurance coverage by prioritizing prevention. She writes, “We know that health is more than merely the absence of disease; it is physical, mental and social well-being.”

These articles and the folks who wrote them are keeping prevention in the public discussion about our nation’s health. Here are a few tips for going out and making some news of your own—through writing an op-ed, penning a letter to the editor, or even leaving a comment on a blog—that makes the case for prevention.

  1. Start with a story that already has some buzz and a clear link to prevention. The news coverage on the study we mentioned above is a great place to start. Use it as hook to participate in the discussion that’s happening right now around the rise of chronic disease in our country.
  2. Find an angle on the story that gives you an opportunity to promote prevention as the solution. Your message could be one of a few:
    • “Prevention will ensure that our longer lives are healthier lives.”
    • “Prevention works and people want it.”
    • “Community prevention efforts are on the ground, community-level changes that make it easier for real people to stay healthy.”
    •  “Investing in quality prevention is a way to not only prevent illness and injury, but to move our sickcare system to a system that actually promotes health and wellness."
  3. Tell a story and communicate your values. Speak from your experience—you’re the expert! And don’t hesitate to say why prevention matters to you and to the nation.

And as always, let us know if you write an op-ed or a letter to the editor. We’ll mention it in our next Rapid Response.

Transforming Communities for Health

This week, a Senate Appropriations subcommittee approved additional funding for Community Transformation Grants, nearly doubling the funding to $290 million for the 2014 Fiscal Year. These grants pay for quality community prevention efforts like introducing fresh produce to school lunches and supporting tobacco-free housing. Read more about it here.

Community Prevention In Action

Read examples of how some communities are using the Transformation grants to improve their health environment. Check out our series of profiles at Forbes.com. 

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