Health care vs. sick care: Why prevention is essential to payment reform

April 3, 2012
by Thomas M. Menino & Dr. Paula Johnson
Boston Globe


The president and Congress recently cut funding for local public health initiatives dramatically as part of a deal to offset the planned cuts to Medicare physician payments. Eliminating critical and promising community prevention funding was a huge disappointment, and a real setback to programs that successfully cut health care costs.

The foundation of our current health care system is the treatment of illness and disease rather than the promotion of good health. If we created the conditions to make it possible for people to take better care of themselves, countless medical conditions such as type II diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease, and obesity could be prevented. And the treatment of these diseases is what leads to skyrocketing health care costs. Local public health interventions – such as reducing air pollution, making healthier food more available, improving sidewalks and bike paths to promote physical activity, and preventing young people from getting hooked on tobacco – can play a significant role in avoiding costly medical care.


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