Speak Up, Congress is Back Home
Members of Congress headed back to their home districts last week to connect with constituents over the five-week August recess. This is a key time for prevention advocates to make our voices heard about the importance of prevention—and the Prevention and Public Health Fund.
We’re asking you to speak up for prevention by reaching out this month to your legislator, attending a town-hall meeting, or penning a letter to the editor, Op-ed or commentary for your local paper or news website. Here are some ideas you can use in your outreach:
We know that most chronic diseases—and the tremendous suffering and costs they bring—can be prevented. As a nation, we are starting to change our health system to provide greater access to care. We are also beginning to invest in health and wellness in the first place by working to improve the conditions and quality of life in our communities. The biggest source of those investments is a fund that—sad to say—many Americans have never heard of.
The Prevention and Public Health Fund has been supporting prevention efforts across the country for the past four years through initiatives that work to reduce smoking, lower diabetes and cardiovascular disease and promote health. It helped cities like Nashville increase bike riding and walking. It helped farmers in Wisconsin get more of their fruits and vegetables into local schools so kids can eat healthier meals. It has helped schools and local agencies in Los Angeles get more nutritious food in their vending machines and kids in Monterey County, California, encourage their peers to drink water instead of soda.
Over the next 10 years, the Prevention Fund is slated to provide another $5 billion to $10 billion to support similar, cutting-edge efforts that can save lives and money.
Why continue investing in prevention? Not only is it the most effective way to reduce healthcare costs and prevent illness and injuries, it’s also good for the economy. When we invest money to make it easier to walk or ride bikes in our cities and towns, it brings more business to local stores and boosts people’s health. Poor health, on the other hand, is bad for business—it leads to lost workdays, lower productivity and costly medical claims for employers. Every dollar spent on workplace wellness programs saves $2.73 in absenteeism costs alone, according to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
While the leading causes of death in the United States are almost all related to chronic diseases, these conditions don’t affect all populations equally. Underserved communities are at higher risk many chronic conditions, including asthma, diabetes and heart disease. Funding for prevention helps promote equity and fairness and improve the health of all people.
We are working with our partners and allies at Trust for America’s Health, American Public Health Association and others to build the case for prevention and to urge our representatives to keep supporting the Prevention Fund. In the coming weeks, we and our partners will meet with members of Congress to build support for the Prevention Fund. Meetings have already taken place in Massachusetts with Senator Warren, in New Hampshire with Senator Shaheen, and in Montana with Senators Tester and Walsh and Congressman Daines. But we can’t do this alone. We need your help in cultivating more champions in Congress!
Take action now. Here is what you can do in the next few weeks:
- Make a visit to your legislator’s office or attend a town-hall meeting to urge them to support the Prevention and Public Health Fund. Not sure who your Congressional representative is? You can check here: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members.
- Spread the word by writing op-eds or letters to the editor and submit them to your local newspapers.
Our partners at TFAH have created a toolkit with helpful information and strategies on how to engage elected officials during the August recess period. To access the TFAH toolkit, visit http://healthyamericans.org/health-issues/latest-developments/summer-recess-toolkit.