So Much for That Ounce of Prevention

April 25, 2011
New York Times

House Republicans are so bent on blocking any and all aspects of health care reform that they have passed a bill that would eliminate a farsighted program — the Prevention and Public Health Fund — intended to help states and communities prevent diseases. Eliminating the fund would save roughly $16 billion over the course of a decade, a small amount in the context of a trillion-dollar health care reform. The loss to states and local communities would be considerable.

Although most of the health care reforms are devoted to improving care for the sick, the new fund is an important effort to stop people from getting ill — saving lives and money. It would support public health programs to prevent obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer, boost vaccination levels, and reduce smoking, among other things. The money could also help state and local health departments build laboratories, bolster their capacity to track epidemics, and train public health workers.


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