Friday, April 15, 2011

Some House Members Would Eliminate Funds For Prevention

On April 14, the House of Representative passed, by a vote of 236-183, H.R. 1217, which would repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Rep. Joseph Pits (Pa.), who introduced the bill, said during debate on the measure, “We have created a slush fund from which the Secretary can spend without any congressional oversight or approval. No one here can tell us how this funding will be used next year or five or ten or 20 or 50 years from now. We can’t predict how the money will be spent—and worse, we can’t even influence it.”

Rep. Henry Waxman (Cal.) defended the fund: “Terminating the prevention fund is not only extremely shortsighted; it will also prove to be fiscally irresponsible. The return on this kind of upfront investment—targeted resources to help keep people healthy for as long as possible—will over time save precious health care dollars.”

The Fund, included in ACA Sec. 4002, provides for expanded and sustained national investment in prevention and public health programs to improve health and help restrain the rate of growth in private and public sector health care costs.

Under ACA Sec. 4002 funds were allocated in the following ways for 2010 and 2011:

Type of Allocation 2010 2011
Community Prevention $76 million $298 million
Clinical Prevention $50 million $182 million
Public Health
and Training $343 million $137 million
Research and Tracking $31 million $133 million

For the past few years, major employers have been investing in disease prevention and wellness for their employees as a health care cost reduction measure. Apparently, members of the U.S. House of Representatives don't consider prevention a sound investment for the nation.


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