The Following is a Q&A With Laura Hanen, MPP, NACCHO Chief of Government Affairs
Q. Ms. Hanen, NACCHO represents nearly 3,000 county and city health departments in the U.S. The new administration has vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Why is preserving it so important?
The Affordable Care Act brought about significant change to the healthcare and public health landscape. It fundamentally shifted how we as a nation think about the meaning and value of health. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that an impressive 17 million uninsured people have gained health insurance under the law. In addition to expanding access to care, the ACA encourages a more holistic approach to care by rewarding clinical care providers for value instead of volume. As a result, we're seeing a greater focus on quality and outcomes in the clinical setting. If the law is repealed, millions of Americans may lose their insurance coverage. The ACA also expanded access to clinical preventive services and disease screenings. Another crucial piece of the law to local health departments and the communities they serve is the Prevention and Public Health Fund.
Q. What is the Prevention and Public Health Fund?
The Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) is a funding stream primarily dedicated to investments in core public health programs at state and local health departments. The PPHF makes up 12% of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) funding. Since 2010, the PPHF has supported efforts to combat infectious disease, prevent lead poisoning, detect causes of diseases and injury, and address the leading causes of rising health care costs. The PPHF is in jeopardy because of the proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act. A core principal of our organization's mission is to promote equal access to good health. A repeal of the Affordable Care Act would severely impact access to care and maintenance of a good quality of life for Americans.
Q. What do our leaders on Capitol Hill need to know about potential cuts to the Prevention and Public Health Fund?
With the effort to repeal the ACA, funding from PPHF is in peril. Congress can stop this from happening. NACCHO urges local health departments to take action now and call their Members of Congress to oppose cutting the PPHF. Among the vital programs at risk at the CDC are the 317 Immunization Program, Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention and Diabetes Prevention among others.
NACCHO's Board of Directors, Big Cities Health Coalition and state associations of county and city health officials will be visiting Congress members this week to let them know how vital continued funding is to the ability of our nation's local health departments to serve their communities and keep people healthy and safe.