Ask L.A. Board of Supervisors to Prioritize Health Equity and Community Prevention
On August 11, L.A. County’s Board of Supervisors is slated to discuss, and possibly vote on, a model proposed by the Chief Executive Office to consolidate the Public Health, Mental Health, and Health Services Departments into a single, mega-agency.
Now is the time to elevate prevention as the real solution to a more effective health system. We can achieve cost savings and real transformation in L.A. County, but it will take a concerted effort from the Board of Supervisors to ensure that the Department of Public Health is empowered and fully funded to lead L.A. County toward a 21st century health system—where achieving health equity and preventing people from getting sick and injured in the first place are our highest ideals.
A merged organizational structure was in place in L.A. prior to 2006, and many say it crippled public health— reducing its responsiveness and hobbling its prevention capacity. Since the Board established a separate Public Health Department nearly a decade ago, L.A. has become a national leader in quality, effective prevention. Life expectancy in L.A. County has increased and death rates have declined by double digits for coronary heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and infant mortality since 2006. But there is still more work to be done.
With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, it’s more important than ever to secure the future of population health, equity, and prevention. These are cost savers, and are the province of public health. Prevention Institute (PI) has joined with over 130 organizations in support of an alternative plan to establish an Office of Healthcare Enhancement in L.A. County, with the goal of ensuring that the Public Health Department is positioned to attract resources and leadership to concentrate on the community conditions and root causes that make us safe and healthy in the first place.
Momentum is continuing to build for this alternative, and your voice is critical. Please speak up and speak out in support of an independent, empowered, and fully-funded public health department before or at the next Board of Supervisors hearing! For those of you in L.A. County, contact your Supervisor directly today. For those who can attend, details for the hearing follow:
Tuesday, August 11th at 9:30 a.m.
Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration
Board Hearing Room: 381B
500 W. Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Last month, PI co-authored an op-ed in the Los Angeles Daily News with Dr. Jonathan Fielding, the former Director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health. Our conclusion was unequivocal: when public health and health services departments are integrated, the bulk of attention typically goes to medical care—the big ticket item, but not the biggest contributor to health in the first place. Prevention saves money — every $1 spent on quality, comprehensive chronic disease prevention at the community level saves $5.60 in health care costs.
Angelenos deserve a well-funded and focused commitment to community health, equity, and prevention. It’s time to amplify our collective message: A real health system places prevention and health equity first.
Tell your County Supervisor to support an independent and empowered Department of Public Health. Or, join us at the hearing on August 11th and make your voice heard.