By Chris Adams
One part of the Affordable Care Act had nothing to do with health insurance exchanges or individual mandates.
Instead, the Prevention and Public Health Fund was established to expand the kinds of programs that can improve health outcomes and enhance health care quality. Among the uses for these dollars, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: community and clinical prevention initiatives; research, surveillance and tracking; public health infrastructure; immunizations and screenings; tobacco prevention; and public health workforce and training.
But in 2017, the fund’s future is up-in-the air, whether from congressional efforts to repeal Obamacare or the CDC budget proposed by the Trump White House.
In a video with the National Press Foundation, John Auerbach of the Trust for America’s Health explained how the fund came to be and how he and other public health advocates are fighting to keep it healthy.
“If that fund went away, it would mean that every single state would see a loss of effective public health programs they have come to depend on,” said Auerbach, who in 2016 was named the trust’s president and CEO. Before coming to the fund, he had a long career in public health positions, including at the CDC and as public health commissioner of Massachusetts.
According to Auerbach, public health funding generally has bipartisan support in Congress. In 2017, however, the prevention fund could be collateral damage from the move to repeal Obamacare (as of this writing, those efforts appear to be dead, although they could be revived). Throughout the entire repeal-Obamacare debate, the fund hasn’t gotten much ink, which has led to a sustained effort by Auerbach and other public health advocates to protect it. The trust, for example, signed on to a letter from more than 500 organizations urging that the fund be protected.