When President Obama spoke to the American Medical Association (AMA) about health reform today, he mentioned the importance of investing in prevention and wellness to fight chronic disease and reduce rising health care costs.

He said:
Our federal government also has to step up its efforts to advance the cause of healthy living. Five of the costliest illnesses and conditions - cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, lung disease, and strokes - can be prevented. And yet only a fraction of every health care dollar goes to prevention or public health. That is starting to change with an investment we are making in prevention and wellness programs that can help us avoid diseases that harm our health and the health of our economy.

The health reform bill unveiled last week by the Heath, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, the “Affordable Health Choices Act,” creates a sharp new emphasis on disease prevention and public health.

The measure includes incentivizes so that providers can promote basic preventive services – and that includes reimbursing for nutrition counseling, tobacco cessation, as well as screenings for things like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. For essential screenings and annual physicals, it eliminates the co-pays and deductibles that currently discourages many people from doing the right things to stay healthy. In addition, we are going to promote community and workplace wellness efforts, and make major new investments in public health.

With a bill moving in Congress that changes our “sick care system” into a genuine health care system and a President that gets it, the stars are aligning on health reform this year.