NATIONAL. More than the ACA: We Can’t Stop Fighting Now (Huffington Post)

By Dr. Oxiris Barbot, First Deputy Commissioner, NYC Health Department

Since the start of the new presidential administration, the onslaught of policies and executive orders have been met with outcries from communities, organizations and elected officials. In the medical community, there was an almost unprecedented bipartisan opposition to the White House’s proposed American Health Care Act. To some, the protection of the Affordable Care Act has given us a rare time to celebrate, rest and regroup.

Now is not that time.

Not one of us should have the delusion that an insurance card will be a game changer when it comes to addressing longstanding and dire health inequities. If we truly want to ensure America’s health, activists, physicians and medical organizations can’t just mobilize for preservation of the Affordable Care Act. We must respond with equal vigor to immigration reform, housing quality and segregation, civil rights and other policies that could shape the nation for generations. When 80 percent of health is determined by the context of our lives, confining advocacy to access to medical care is reckless and irresponsible.

In a brave new world, here’s how we move forward:

#1 Collect Data for Action

Medicine and health rely on facts. There can be no alternatives. The need to collect robust data and shape the narrative of health has never been more urgent. By quantifying the human toll of defunding Planned Parenthood, reducing SNAP benefits through the Farm Bill and block-granting Medicaid, we proactively treat more patients than a doctor could during a shift in the ER, or an entire career. Read more. 

KNOXVILLE. Letter: Lawmakers must protect Prevention and Public Health Fund (Knoxville News Sentinel)

By Mary Woolley, President and CEO, Research!America

Regarding Paul Erwin and Doris Spain's guest column, "Protect the Prevention and Public Health Fund," illnesses that are largely preventable -- heart disease, cancer and influenza -- remain top causes of death in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that half of all U.S. adults have one or more of these and other chronic health conditions. These realities underscore the importance of the Prevention and Public Health Fund -- authorized and funded under the Affordable Care Act -- which helps states like Tennessee keep communities healthy and safe by providing resources for immunizations, chronic disease prevention and cancer screenings. The Tennessee Breast and Cervical Screening Program is one example of many. As Erwin and Spain note, without the fund, Tennessee could lose millions of dollars and experience heart-breaking loss of life. Read more.

NATIONAL. The Real Threat to National Security: Deadly Disease (The New York Times)

By MICHAEL T. OSTERHOLM and MARK OLSHAKER 

While the Trump administration is proposing significantly increased military spending to enhance our national security, it seems to have lost sight of the greatest national security threat of all: our fight against infectious disease.

We already spend far more on our military than any other country in the world. To help pay for the increases, President Trump wants to cut back many federal programs, including those that prepare us to wage war against microbes, the greatest and most lethal enemy we are ever likely to face. This is where “defense spending” needs to increase, significantly.

President Trump’s budget would cut funding for the National Institutes of Health by 18 percent. It would cut the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development, a key vehicle for preventing and responding to outbreaks before they reach our shores, by 28 percent. And the repeal of the Affordable Care Act would kill the billion-dollar Prevention and Public Health Fund, which provides funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to fight outbreaks of infectious disease. (While the budget also calls for the creation of an emergency fund to respond to outbreaks, there is no indication that it would offset the other cuts, or where the money would come from.)

Those cuts will not protect American citizens. They will diminish research and vaccine development and our ability to respond to the growing threats of antibiotic resistance and new infectious diseases.

Read more. 

 

 

OAKLAND. My Word: California must push back and forward on health care (East Bay Times)

By MANAL ABOELATA AND LARRY COHEN

Californians have a lot at stake in the current health care debate. Under the Affordable Care Act, nearly 4 million people in California gained health care coverage and the scope of coverage improved for all.

We must insist this coverage be maintained, stand strong in support of the Affordable Care Act and oppose the American Health Care Act. At the same time, California must move the needle in setting the gold standard for a true system of health that includes prevention of illness and injury, and high-quality health care for all. Read more.

CHICAGO. Chicago health commissioner: The ACA saves lives and we shouldn't abandon it (The Hill)

BY DR. JULIE MORITA, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR

For many people, the signature accomplishment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the 20 million additional Americans that gained access to health insurance.

But what is less recognized is the ACA's transformation of the entire health system. These changes included a sharper focus on preventive care, a departure from the fee for service payment models that incentivize procedures, and the adoption of payment to quality, not quantity, of care.

While we are hopeful that much of this remains in place regardless of what the future of ACA looks like, one key lever must be retained to continue the progress made toward prevention of many serious and costly diseases: the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF). Read more.

Senate and House Leaders Raise Concerns About the Impact of President Trump's Decisions on HHS and CDC Preparedness for a Flu Pandemic (Senator Elizabeth Warren Press Release)

Washington, D.C. - Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), along with Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), Gene Green (D-Texas), and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), today wrote to Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Acting Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ask how several actions taken by the Trump administration could harm the CDC's preparedness for a pandemic flu outbreak.  Read more. 

Full text of the letter available here (PDF)

BALTIMORE. Six reasons to fight the ACA replacement plan (Baltimore Sun)

Op-ed by Dr. Leana Wen, Big Cities Health Coalition member and Director of the Baltimore City Health Department 

For months, I have received questions from concerned residents about how repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would impact their health. My patients were worried about whether they could still get medications to treat their heart disease and diabetes, whether they would they lose coverage for mental health and addiction services, and whether they would continue to get basic preventive services such as mammogram, pap smears and blood pressure screenings.  Read more. 

SACRAMENTO. GOP Obamacare repeal plan could hurt fight against Zika, hepatitis, other health problems (Sacramento Bee)

By Sammy Caiola

A multibillion dollar federal fund that helps prevent disease outbreaks and fights chronic conditions may disappear with a Republican plan to revamp the Affordable Care Act, worrying local physicians and county officials who say they rely on the money to sustain community health.  Read more.

GOP Health Care Plan Would Eliminate an Important Disease Prevention Fund (Route Fifty)

WASHINGTON — Amid discussions surrounding the new health care proposal introduced by U.S. House Republicans this week, a lot of attention has been paid to the future of Medicaid, the Planned Parenthood funding freeze, and the implications of eliminating the individual mandate. But there’s one subtler—and no less crucial—change that will impact the entire fabric of the American public health system that state and local governments shouldn’t overlook. Read more. 

ACA Repeal Would Mean Massive Cuts To Public Health, Leaving Cities And States At Risk (Health Affairs Blog)

By Chrissie Juliano

When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed a little over six years ago, it brought with it the promise of health insurance for all Americans. It also sought to begin to shift the paradigm for health care in this country, emphasizing value over volume, and recognizing the importance of prevention coupled with appropriate access to care. Read more. 

Prevention and Public Health Fund on the Chopping Block? (The Scientist)

By Tracy Vence

Update March 7: House Republicans have released a plan to “repeal and replace” the ACA, which includes the elimination of the Prevention and Public Health Fund by 2019, Vox reported.

“Look, it’s a slush fund,” Representative Andy Harris (R-MD) told
STAT News. “It’s been used by the secretary [of Health and Human Services] for whatever the secretary wants. It’s a misnomer to call it the Prevention and Public Health Fund, because it’s been used for other things, and it’s about time we eliminated it.” Read more. 

 

MINNEAPOLIS. The Affordable Care Act Repeal Would Imperil a Little Known Part with a Huge Impact (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

Op-ed by Gretchen Musicant, Big Cities Health Coalition Chair, and Director of the Minneapolis Health Department

The debate about the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is in full swing, and many know that repealing the ACA would leave almost 20 million Americans without health care coverage. This is of great concern. Read more.