Monday, June 21, 2010

Sebelius Announces New $250 Million Investment to Lay Foundation for Prevention and Public Health

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on June 18 announced $250 million in new Affordable Care Act investments to support prevention activities and develop the nation’s public health infrastructure.

Chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes, are responsible for 7 of 10 deaths each year among Americans, and account for 75 percent of the nation’s health spending. Many Americans engage in behaviors such as tobacco use, poor diet, physical inactivity, and alcohol abuse, which harm their health.

“Investing in prevention and public health builds the foundation for improving the health and well-being of Americans, and for lowering costs in the health care system,” said Secretary Sebelius. “Investing in proven preventive services will help patients get the care they need early, avoiding costly and unnecessary care later. This prevention-focused approach is better for doctors, patients, and our national balance sheet.”

The investments announced today in prevention and public health are the second allocation for fiscal year 2010 from the new $500 million Prevention and Public Health fund created by the Affordable Care Act.

The $250 million investment in prevention and public health will go to:

* Community and Clinical Prevention: $126 million will support federal, state and community prevention initiatives; the integration of primary care services into publicly funded community-based behavioral health settings; obesity prevention and fitness; and tobacco cessation.
* Public Health Infrastructure: $70 million will support state, local, and tribal public health infrastructure and build state and local capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks.
* Research and Tracking: $31 million for data collection and analysis; to strengthen CDC’s Community Guide by supporting the Task Force on Community Preventive Services; and to improve transparency and public involvement in the Clinical Preventive Services Task Force.
* Public Health Training: $23 million to expand CDC’s public health workforce programs and public health training centers.

“With these investments, we are tackling the underlying causes of chronic diseases as well as strengthening our ability to meet the public health challenges of the 21st century,” said Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin. “This moves America in the direction of becoming a fit and healthy nation.”

Earlier this week, Secretary Sebelius announced the allocation of the first half of the Prevention and Public Health fund to increase the number of clinicians and strengthen the primary care workforce. Building on the earlier investments made by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the Affordable Care Act, particularly for the National Health Service Corps, the investments will support the training and development of more than 16,000 new primary care providers over the next five years.

With these investments and others, the Affordable Care Act is continuing the Obama Administration’s historic work to promote wellness and reduce chronic disease. The new law also calls for a national strategy to improve the nation’s health, eliminates co-pays for key preventive services like cancer screenings, and provides new support for employer wellness programs.

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