Groups rise to defense of healthcare reform's prevention fund

Fifty-six health organizations are asking President Obama to reject attempts to eliminate or pare down the healthcare reform law's investment in preventive health. 

The Democrats' law created the $15 billion Prevention and Public Health Fund "to provide for expanded and sustained national investment in prevention and public health programs." Some congressional Republicans have called the provision a "slush fund" and have proposed eliminating the fund or turning it into an annual appropriation whose funding would be in the hands of lawmakers.

States have already received tens of millions of dollars from the trust fund to train public health workers, prevent HIV and AIDS, reduce tobacco use and beef up laboratories to track disease outbreaks.

In a letter to Obama, dozens of groups including the Trust for America's Health, the American Academy of Pediatricians and the American Public Health Association urged the White House to oppose any efforts to "reclassify or eliminate" the fund. The groups go on to suggest that Obama would in effect be betraying a presidential campaign promise otherwise.

"The Fund," they write, "is among the most significant provisions in ACA that help achieve a goal you set during the 2008 campaign, 'Simply put, in the absence of a radical shift towards prevention and public health, we will not be successful in containing medical costs or improving the health of the American people.' "