For Immediate Release: June 10, 2009
TFAH Applauds “Affordable Health Choices Act” for Making Prevention a Cornerstone of Health Reform
Washington, D. C. June 10, 2009 - Trust for America's Health (TFAH) today applauded the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) for including strong prevention and public health components in the Affordable Health Choices Act to improve the health of Americans.
"Our nation will never be able to contain health care costs until we do a better job of keeping Americans healthier and preventing disease," said Jeff Levi, PhD, Executive Director of TFAH. "The HELP Committee should be commended for making disease prevention and public health cornerstones of health reform -- which would help spare millions of Americans from needless suffering and save the health system billions of dollars in preventable costs. The Affordable Health Choices Act goes a long way toward transforming the country's current sick care system to a system that keeps people healthier in the first place."
"Prevention holds the promise of improving health and quality of life while lowering health care costs. This bill includes the ingredients needed to ensure we get the returns that prevention offers, including a focused national prevention strategy, a sustained public health funding stream, and evidence-based programs that will be held accountable for improving health outcomes," Levi continued.
Americans rank prevention as the most important health care reform priority, and more than three-quarters of Americans (76 percent) support increasing funding for prevention programs that provide people with information and resources and creating policies that help people make healthier choices, according to a new poll released this week conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Public Opinion Strategies. Investing in prevention is popular across the political spectrum, with 86 percent of Democrats, 71 percent of Republicans, and 70 percent of Independents supporting investing more in prevention.
Research shows that strategic investments in disease prevention can result in significant savings in a short time -- reducing health care costs, increasing the productivity of the nation's workforce, and helping people lead healthier lives. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a vast majority of chronic diseases could be prevented through lifestyle and environmental changes. And a recent study by TFAH, entitled "Prevention for a Healthier America," found that investing $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.
Some key public health and prevention components of the Affordable Health Choices Act include:
ENSURING STRATEGIC, EFFECTIVE, ACCOUNTABLE DISEASE PREVENTION AND HEALTH PROMOTION
- Development of a National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy which would set specific goals and objectives for improving the health of the nation through federally-supported prevention, health promotion, and public health programs, and establish measurable actions and timelines for meeting prevention and health promotion goals;
- Establishment of a National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council to provide coordination and leadership with respect to prevention, wellness and health promotion practices, the public health system, and integrative health care in the United States;
- Establishment of an independent Community Prevention Services Task Force to review the scientific evidence related to the effectiveness, appropriateness, and cost-effectiveness of community preventive interventions to be published in the Guide to Community Preventive Services;
- Establishment of an independent Preventive Services Task Force to review scientific evidence related to the effectiveness, appropriateness, and cost-effectiveness of clinical preventive services; and
- Funding for research in the area of public health services and systems, including examining evidence-based practices relating to prevention, focusing in particular on the National Prevention Strategy or Healthy People 2020.
CREATING A STABLE, RELIABLE FUNDING STREAM FOR PUBLIC HEALTH AND PREVENTION PROGRAMS AND SERVICES
- Establishment of a Prevention and Public Health Investment Fund to expand and sustain a national investment in prevention and public health programs at a level of $10 billion per year, over and above current FY 2008 levels of funding for prevention, wellness and public health. Public health has been chronically underfunded for decades, and the core infrastructure of the system needs to be modernized.
SUPPORTING PREVENTION BOTH INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE DOCTOR'S OFFICE
- Establishment of Community Transformation Grants under a Creating Healthier Communities program, to support prevention outside the doctor's office for community-based disease prevention, such as programs to promote physical activity, create smoke-free environments, and make nutritious food more affordable and available. These initiatives make healthy choices easier choices for more Americans -- awarding competitive grants to state and local governmental agencies and community-based organizations for the implementation, evaluation, and dissemination of proven evidence-based community preventive health activities to reduce chronic disease rates, address health disparities, and develop a stronger evidence-base of effective prevention programs;
- Establishment of a Right Choices program to provide access to proven clinical preventive services, like immunizations and screenings, for the uninsured. In addition, the coverage section of the bill mandates no copayments for evidence-based preventive services endorsed by independent authorities;
- Establishment of a Healthy Aging, Living Well pilot project to provide public health community interventions, screenings, and necessary clinical referrals for individuals 55 and 64 years of age;
- Coordination of a workplace wellness marketing campaign to make employers aware of the benefits of employer-based wellness programs; and
- Establishment of an oral healthcare prevention and education campaign.