Prevention and Public Health Fund

Prevention and Public Health Fund

By Carolyn Mullen
Associate Director, National Center on Health Reform Implementation, AMCHP 

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) provided a historic opportunity to invest in prevention and public health through the creation of a Prevention and Public Health Fund. The Fund provides mandatory funding, over the fiscal year 2008 level, for programs authorized by the Public Health Service Act, for prevention, wellness and public health activities to reduce and combat a host of leading public health issues.  

The Fund’s mandatory appropriation levels begin at $500 million for fiscal year 2010 and increases incrementally each year through fiscal year 2015 to $2 billion annually. A year after the ACA was signed into law, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) allocated the funding consistent with the premise of the new law. In June 2010, HHS announced the allocations of $500 million for fiscal year 2010 and in February HHS announced allocations of $750 million for fiscal year 2011.  

The initial allocations of the Fund primarily focused on obesity prevention, tobacco cessation and nutrition. Coupled together these initiatives will lead to vast improvements in maternal and child health. AMCHP continues to encourage that an adequate portion of the Fund addresses maternal and child health issues because the onset of many chronic conditions are present at birth and last through childhood and into adulthood. Our message is that investing in prevention and wellness programs to combat the risk factors associated with the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in children specifically will go a long way toward reducing long term health care costs.  

The Community Transformation Grant Program (CTG) in particular represents a unique opportunity to address maternal and child health. The Fund provides $145 million in fiscal year 2011 for this newly authorized program wherein the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will award competitive grants to state and local governmental agencies and community-based organizations. These grants will fund implementation, evaluation and dissemination of evidence-based community preventive health activities in order to reduce chronic disease rates, prevent the development of secondary conditions, address health disparities, and develop a stronger evidence-base of effective prevention programming. CDC will be issuing a funding opportunity announcement in the upcoming months. In the meantime, state maternal and child health directors are encouraged to begin partnering with state chronic disease directors to ensure an adequate portion of the funding addresses maternal and child health needs.  

The Prevention and Public Health Fund represents a historic movement in the realm of public health to move us from a system of “sick care” to one of prevention and wellness. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and state and local health departments have the infrastructure and expertise already in place to combat gestational diabetes, infant mortality, childhood obesity, injury and smoking. However, due to chronic underfunding these entities were unable to fully implement the promising research, programs and community interventions to ensure appropriate prevention as well as prompt diagnosis and treatment of a broad array of conditions and diseases. The new sustained mandatory funding stream afforded via the Fund will ensure timely intervention boosting federal and state capacity today, and will result in better health and cost savings in both the short and long term. This is why a year after ACA was signed into law, AMCHP looks forward to working with you and our many partners to ensure Congress sustains support for the Fund in the near future and beyond.