The U.S. spends far more on medical care than any other nation, yet ranks 26th in life expectancy. That’s partly because we tend to focus on treating illnesses rather than preventing them in the first place. Basically, we’re not adhering to wise advice that “a stitch in time saves nine”.
More than 85% of the health care costs in the U.S. are from preventable chronic conditions, yet only 3% of our health care spending is focused on prevention and public health - the key factors that prevent chronic medical conditions before they start. It’s essential that we do a more effective job preventing costly chronic medical conditions to reduce health care costs.
The Affordable Care Act included several initiatives designed to reduce health care costs. One important component was the creation of the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which provides federal, state and local public health resources to reduce long-term health costs. The fund focuses on preventing expensive chronic medical conditions by providing expanded and sustained national investment in public health programs that improve health and restrain the rate of growth in health care costs.
This investment in public health infrastructure to reduce costs is evidence-based. Research suggests that funding for community-based public health has a 5.6 to 1 return on investment. In other words, every dollar invested in evidence-based prevention programs results in a $5.6 in savings in overall health care costs.
Over the last several years, the fund has been used to support an array of evidence-based community prevention and clinical prevention programs that bolster public health infrastructure and workforce and expand public health research and tracking efforts that reduce health care costs. Resources go to programs at the local, state and federal levels to: a) better detect and respond to disease threats; b) increase vaccination rates; c) fight obesity; d) curb tobacco use; and e) increase access to preventive care services.
The fund also provides state and local resources to fight numerous health threats. Vaccination programs supported by the fund ensure access to vaccines that protect the most vulnerable among us from routine diseases like influenza and provide community-based immunity to prevent the widespread circulation of diseases like mumps and measles. The fund supports the ability to track emerging infectious disease outbreaks like Zika or Ebola, as well as foodborne illnesses.
Arizona public health jurisdictions have received more than $52.6 million through the Prevention & Public Health Fund since 2010. This $9.3 million annual investment is at work in Arizona, providing critical resources that support evidence-based, community prevention activities tailored to meet community health needs and preferences.
Evidence-based PPHF investments in Arizona include:
• Prescription painkiller (Opiate) and heroin use prevention;
• Health security funds for bioterrorism, disease outbreaks, and disasters;
• Building immunization services to prevent serious infectious disease outbreaks;
• Promoting better detection and response to disease threats;
• Lead poisoning prevention;
• Reducing tobacco use; and
• Reducing diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Astonishingly, the US House of Representative’s “American Health Care Act”, all introduced versions of the US Senate’s “Better Care Reconciliation Act” (and Amendments), and the President’s proposed budget would eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund.
We’re urging our elected representatives in congress and their staff to reflect on the impact that Prevention and Public Health Fund resources are having in Arizona as they consider options for reforming the U.S healthcare system. Arizona’s public health infrastructure is already stretched thin because of limited state and local investment in public health. Further reductions in capacity by reducing or eliminating the Prevention and Public Health Fund would impair Arizona’s ability to bend the health care cost curve as well as impair its ability to respond to infectious diseases, the opioid crisis, and preventable diseases and chronic conditions.
The Arizona Public Health Association partnered with the Vitalyst Foundation to develop a report that outlines the progress that Arizona is making using existing prevention and Public Health Fund resources.
The report, entitled The Value of Prevention: How the Prevention and Public Health Fund Invests in Arizona’s Health is geared to inform policy makers and other stakeholders of the potential implications related to eliminating or restructuring the Prevention and Public Health Fund. The report is also posted on our AzPHA home page at www.azpha.org.
Please take a gander and forward the report to folks that might be interested- especially people and organizations that you know that may be able to influence the outcome of this enormously important national debate about the future of health care and public health in our country.
"Our Lives on the Line”, Arizona" Rally and Press Event
More than a dozen groups have joined forces to lead a national “day of action” against the plan to drastically cut back Medicaid and public health resources as part of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The rally and press event in Arizona is one of many being held simultaneously in numerous other cities around the country that day.
“Our Lives On the Line, Arizona” event — including a flagship rally in Washington — will set the tone for several weeks of action to persuade key lawmakers to focus on evidence-based solutions that will improve health outcomes as they debate changes to the Affordable Care Act Here’s where you can register for the Arizona event
Saturday, July 29, 2017 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM AZ Time
Our Lives on the Line
Parsons’s Center for Health and Wellness – Southwest Center for HIV/AIDs (Phoenix, AZ)
1101 N. Central Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85004