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GAO releases report on Prevention and Public Health Fund

Posted on October 17, 2012 | No Comments

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Key Developments
Implementation Briefs

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) established the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) to provide expanded and sustained national investment in prevention and public health programs, including prevention research, health screenings, and immunization programs. The ACA appropriated $500 million for fiscal year 2010, $750 million for fiscal year 2011, and additional amounts for future fiscal years to operationalize the PPHF.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) was asked to provide information on how PPHF funds were allocated for fiscal years 2010 and 2011. The GAO report describes (1) the HHS agencies and activities for which PPHF allocations were made, (2) the process and criteria HHS used to allocate PPHF funds, and (3) HHS reporting of the outcomes of activities receiving PPHF funding.

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A new report published today by Trust for America's Health (TFAH) contains key facts about the Prevention and Public Health Fund. The Truth about the Prevention Fund, describes the various components of the Prevention and Public Health Fund that utilize evidence-based research and partnerships to actively improve the health of Americans. The fund intends to expand preventative care and build upon community-based programs that address a multitude of preventable diseases by allocating $14.5 billion in mandatory spending over 10 years. The report contains evidence and examples of how the Prevention and Public Health Fund is already being successfully used in various communities throughout the country.
The United States spends twice what most other industrialized nations spend on health care, yet ranks 24th out of 30 such nations in terms of life expectancy. America spends 3 percent of health care dollars on preventing diseases (as opposed to treating them), when 75 percent of costs are associated with preventable conditions. To adequately meet prevention needs, and to control unsustainable growth in health care costs, a 2012 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report recommended that the U.S. increase federal funding for public health and prevention by $12 billion annually. According to a report recently published by the American Public Health Association, a key first step toward meeting this need is the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a mandatory fund for prevention and public health programs created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The purpose of the Fund is to provide a stable and increased investment in activities that will enable communities to stay healthy in the first place, and it was designed to gradually build from $500 million in FY 2010 to $2 billion per year by FY 2015. Despite a recent legislative reduction of $6.25 billion over nine years to help postpone a cut in Medicare physician payments, and some use of the Fund to replace existing appropriations, the Fund still represents a crucial investment in the health of communities and in the nation’s long term fiscal health.
The Commonwealth Fund recently published a paper in Medscape Public Health regarding preventive health services under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The law has already extended coverage to dependents through age 26. By 2014, Medicaid will expand to cover most low-income adults and the exchanges will extend insurance to many small business and individuals. This eminent expansion of health insurance coverage will greatly increase in the use of preventive services in the United States. ACA provisions also eliminate cost sharing associated with the provision of preventive services, which will also likely impact use. Finally, the movement toward medical homes will also augment the use of preventive services. The paper discusses these relationships in the context of delivery system reforms.
In a vote of 60 to 36, the Senate passed a $150 billion economic package to extend the payroll tax holiday, unemployment compensation, Medicare physician payment, provide for the consideration of the Keystone XL pipeline, and for other purposes. The package will extend a payroll tax holiday for 160 million workers and unemployment benefits for the rest of the year. The bill passed in the House earlier today. The legislation will now go to President Obama, awarding him a victory on a portion of the jobs bill he presented to Congress in the fall. The package will take the first significant...
The Department of Health and Human Services has awarded $42.5 million from the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the health reform law to state, tribal, local, and territorial health departments for 94 separate projects to strengthen public health services. This funding will be distributed cooperatively through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under a program named "Strengthening Public Health Infrastructure for Improved Health Outcomes."
The Department of Health and Human Services has released $16.8 million in support for 27 Public Health Training Centers at schools of public health or other nonprofit institutions. The bulk of these funds—$15.4 million—come from the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the health reform law.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has issued a proposed rule to provide preventive services to Medicare beneficiaries and boost payment to primary care providers.
The health reform law establishes a dedicated “Prevention and Public Health Fund” to provide for “expanded and sustained national investment in prevention and public health programs.”