Putting health ahead of politics: what do we really want to save?


By saving money and lives, the Prevention and Public Health Fund is a key part of the solution to what ails us. Created through the Affordable Care Act, the fund is a historic commitment to keeping communities healthy in the first place. Yet from day one, the fund has faced near constant threats of elimination and severe cuts. Tomorrow is no different. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is considering eliminating what is left of the fund in order to provide needed “savings” to avoid sequestration cuts triggered by the failure of the Super Committee.

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Claims that eliminating the only source of dedicated and ongoing prevention funding—funding that seeks to keep entire communities healthy—will save us from further suffering are naïve at best and, at worst, disingenuous. It is certainly not the honest dialogue we need to move our nation forward.

Solving our national debt crisis is critical but we cannot afford to do so by ignoring the simple truth that preventing illness and injury in the first place is part of an effective debt reduction strategy. The American people want prevention. What we need from our national leaders is the will and wisdom to move our country forward. If we keep abandoning prevention, our families, businesses and economy will continue to suffer. This kind of short-sighted thinking is not the answer to our nation’s growing debt problem – it is a cause of it.

Cohen is the founder and Executive Director of the Prevention Institute, a national non-profit organisation dedicated to improving community health and equity through effective primary prevention.