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Prevention Institute

Prevention Institute alert: August 20, 2013

Organizers Mount Enrollment Campaign Vital to Success of Obamacare—and the Transformation of Our Healthcare System

If you’ve read the news lately, you know that the Affordable Care Act—better known as Obamacare—is under attack. Some in Congress are even threatening to shut down the government in order to squash it—and keep millions of uninsured Americans from getting the health care they need.

But in the last few weeks, supporters of health reform have begun rolling out a campaign to implement the law and enroll millions of Americans in healthcare plans. For 50 million uninsured people, the stakes are high indeed. PI’s Rob Waters writes about this effort in his latest blog at Forbes.com.

Ensuring that health insurance and access to care is available to all of us, regardless of income, is a matter of fairness and social justice. And the campaign to help people get enrolled in health insurance is critical to the success of the Affordable Care Act. But the success of the law also has implications for the future of the movement for prevention and healthy communities. Obamacare is helping open the door to a broader transformation of the health care system. Here’s how:

The law recognizes that health insurance alone isn’t enough to reverse the rise of chronic, often preventable, conditions like diabetes, heart disease and cancer. So it created a Prevention and Public Health Fund that is providing hundreds of millions of dollars to help communities across the country improve their environments in ways that promote health and wellness. The creation of the Fund marked a shift from viewing prevention as services provided to individual patients to an effort that aims to improve the conditions of life in communities in ways that help people stay healthier.

The law also recognized the need to transform the healthcare delivery system by integrating prevention and measures that improve the health of entire populations, not just individual patients. So it also created the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, which is now poised to award $1 billion in grants to healthcare systems to help them develop and test new ways to prevent illness and injury, improve people’s health and lower healthcare costs.

Finally, we know that people who have insurance are more likely to get routine primary care, stay healthy and avoid the need for expensive emergency treatment. As prevention advocates we also know that we need a coordinated, well-thought-out system of care that not only encourages people to eat well and be physically active, but that also joins in efforts to make those things possible for everyone in the community. Obamacare is helping us move in that direction.

Obamacare is the most important and ambitious effort ever undertaken to improve the health of the American people. Let’s help it succeed by supporting the efforts to enroll. And let’s also keep working to transform the healthcare system, taking lessons from clinicians and health advocates who understand the need to address the conditions in people’s communities that play such a critical role in shaping health. This is how we move from a sick-care system to one that’s focused on prevention, health and wellness.

Make Your Voice Heard

Those opposed to the Affordable Care Act are speaking loudly against it—in the media, at town-hall meetings and in the blogosphere. It’s vital that supporters speak up as well—in defense of the Affordable Care Act and prevention. Send a letter to the editor. Pen an Op-Ed and submit it to your local paper. Check out our online media advocacy toolkit here.

Download How Can We Pay for a Healthy Population?

Prevention Institute talked to health-system innovators around the country to identify emerging new approaches for financing population health measures that prioritize community prevention.

Download Community-Centered Health Homes

In this summary, we outline an approach that community health centers can take to integrate community prevention into the delivery of services.

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