Press Release

For Immediate Release: September 24, 2008

Trust for America's Health Applauds Reps. Roybal-Allard, McGovern, Granger, Moran, DeGette and Castle for Passing Prevention Resolution in House

Resolution Supported by Over 160 Public Health Organizations

Washington, D.C. - Trust for America's Health (TFAH) a public health non-profit, commended the U.S. House of Representatives today, for passing a resolution that supports an increased federal commitment to prevention and public health for all Americans. The original cosponsors include the Chairs of the Study Group on Public Health, Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34), James McGovern (MA-3), and Kay Granger (TX-12); Co-Chair of Prevention Caucus, Jim Moran (VA-8); and Chairs of the Diabetes Caucus, Diana DeGette (CO-1) and Michael Castle (DE).  Over 160 health advocacy groups endorsed the bipartisan bill (H. Res. 1381). The resolution calls for an increased federal commitment for disease prevention, based on evidence that shows prevention efforts can help reduce rates of many serious diseases and related health care costs.  The resolution acknowledged the toll conditions like obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease take on America's businesses and families. Chronic diseases currently account for 75 percent of health care spending and seven out of every ten deaths in the U.S.

"Representatives Roybal-Allard, McGovern, Granger, Moran, DeGette, and Castle should be commended for their leadership and commitment to improving the health of Americans," said Jeff Levi, PhD, Executive Director of TFAH.  "Preventing disease is one of the most important ways we can cut health care costs and ensure that Americans live longer, healthier lives.  During this time of economic crisis, investments that could help save the country money are more important than ever."

"Final passage of this resolution gives us an opportunity to send a clear message to the next Congress that public health and prevention must be an essential part of any health care reform package," said Rep. Roybal-Allard.  "The entire public health community agrees that prevention is a critical component to successfully addressing our nation's public health crisis and reining in the astronomical cost of health care.  By investing in prevention, we can save lives and money."

"I'm very pleased that the House has passed this important resolution," said Rep. McGovern.  "We have a lot of challenges in this country.  The long-term health of our people is near the top of that list.  Sensible investments in preventive care are absolutely essential.  It's not just about spending more money - it's about making smart choices to encourage effective preventive care.

"Our country will never contain health care costs until we place a higher priority on public health and prevention programs," said Rep. Granger.  "Despite spending nearly $2.2 trillion on health care costs each year, the United States has the highest rate of preventable deaths among 19 industrialized nations.  We need to focus a larger percentage of our federal health spending on public health, so we can combat chronic diseases and save taxpayers' money."

"Preventive health care measures are not only common-sense, but they make sense fiscally," said Rep. DeGette, Vice Chair of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. "Reducing the need for expensive medical care by investing in public health and prevention could save us billions of dollars.  I am pleased that Congress has recognized the importance of prevention by passing today's resolution about the importance of public health and prevention."

"Promoting healthy lifestyles will reduce the impact of devastating chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and it will save lives," said Rep. Castle.  "Passage of this resolution signals strong support for prioritizing prevention to improve individuals' health and lower U.S. health care costs."

America spends more than $2.2 trillion on health care annually, which is nearly three times more than in 1990 and over eight times more than in 1980. The resolution states that the best way to control these costs and give all Americans the opportunity to lead healthier lives is to prioritize common-sense preventive measures, such as increasing physical activity, promoting better nutrition, and adults taking one aspirin a day.

The members cite recommendations from two recent studies on the impact of chronic disease.  A recent report by the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease noted that the indirect health care costs of chronic disease, such as absenteeism, cost our economy $1 trillion each year. Yet, less than 4 cents of every health care dollar is spent on prevention and public health.

A new report by Trust for America's Health (TFAH) entitled Prevention for a Healthier America finds that a small strategic investment in disease prevention could result in significant savings in U.S. health care costs.  An investment of $10 per person per year in proven community-based programs to increase physical activity, improve nutrition, and prevent smoking and other tobacco use could save the country more than $16 billion annually within five years.  That is a return of $5.60 for every $1.  And, a report by the Partnership for Prevention found that if 90 percent of Americans received five key preventive services, it could save more than 100,000 lives each year. These include increasing the number of Americans who take an aspirin daily, providing support for smoking cessation, screening for colorectal and breast cancer, and annual flu immunizations.


Elle Hogan
202-223-9870 x21