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Expert to new members of Congress: Don't mess with health law's prevention funds

Larry Cohen, MSW, director of the Oakland, Calif.-based Prevention Institute, has penned an interesting piece on preventive medicine for the Huffington Post. In it he talks about the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a 10-year, $15 billion initiative passed as part of the health law; his concerns that some newly elected members of Congress may try to do away with it; and why, exactly, prevention is so important. He writes:

Prevention is a "significant cost control" because it stops people from getting sick in the first place. 75 percent of current health care costs are the result of preventable chronic diseases. Estimates indicate that by 2040 our health care costs will consume 34 percent of our GDP. For every dollar we spend on prevention, we see a five-to-one return on investment. We simply can't fix our economy without it. Prevention efforts, funded through the Prevention and Public Health Fund and Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) initiatives are working right now to alleviate some of these soaring costs - and improving health at the same time.

Saying he "hopes Congress listens," he also highlights the public's understanding and support of such efforts. According to a recent poll (.pdf):

73% of the public support resources that go to community prevention initiatives. Even when community prevention efforts are tied to higher taxes, the majority of the public still favors them. Those standing for re-election in 2012 should take note: 80% of Democrats, 64% of independents, and 58% of Republicans say they are more likely to vote for an elected official who supports community prevention efforts.

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