Trust for America's Health (TFAH) recently recognized the crucial first steps taken by the Obama Administration to allocate the recent health reform Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund, but acknowledged that in year one, half of the fund’s dollars were redirected outside the scope of its Congressional intent, according to a TFAH press release.

“The Administration’s announcement of its plans for spending the FY 2010 Prevention and Public Health Fund are an important first step in building our investment in creating the healthier communities and stronger public health system envisioned in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA),” said Jeff Levi, Ph.D., executive director of TFAH. “We are, however, disappointed that the Administration chose to divert half of the fund’s $500 million outside the scope of the Fund. While an important part of health reform, funding for health professions programs were not the intended purpose of this particular Fund.”

“The Prevention and Public Health Fund is part of PPACA, and is meant “to provide for expanded and sustained national investment in prevention and public health programs.” Under the law, the Fund will appropriate $15 billion for an expanded and sustained national investment in prevention and public health programs over the next ten years. These funds should be used for cross-cutting, high impact purposes, with a goal of creating healthier, safer and more resilient communities, with particular emphasis on reducing gaps in services to low-income and underserved communities.”

“Effective community prevention programs and strong public health systems have the potential for improving the health of all Americans as we transition toward universal coverage. Prevention holds the promise of improving health and quality of life while lowering health care costs, even before universal coverage begins in 2014” Levi said.

“After passage of the Act, TFAH, along with more than 90 other organizations, urged the Administration to allocate the Fund’s FY 2010 $500 million among four general purposes: community prevention, core capacity of state and local health departments, expanding the public health workforce, and building the science and evidence base of prevention. We are pleased that the nearly $250 million will be devoted to the original intent of the Fund from among these categories. It is important to note that the Administration has indicated that the allocation of the $250 million for workforce is a one-time event.”

Levi continued, “We look forward to working with the Administration and Congressional appropriators to assure that beginning with the FY 2011 allocation of the Fund ($750 million), future appropriations will significantly increase our investment in community prevention through programs like the newly authorized Community Transformation Grants as well as build the capacities of state and local health departments as they move toward accreditation; jump-start the workforce programs authorized in the health reform law; and sustain the new investment in research and evaluation, including creating a new program of Public Health Services and Systems Research.”

HHS has announced that the remaining $250 million will be spent as follows:
  • Community and Clinical Prevention: $126 million will support federal, state and community prevention initiatives; the integration of primary care services into publicly funded community-based behavioral health settings; obesity prevention and fitness; and tobacco cessation.
  • Public Health Infrastructure: $70 million will support state, local, and tribal public health infrastructure and build state and local capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks.
  • Research and Tracking: $31 million for data collection and analysis; to strengthen CDC’s Community Guide by supporting the Task Force on Community Preventive Services; and to improve transparency and public involvement in the Clinical Preventive Services Task Force.
  • Public Health Training: $23 million to expand CDC’s public health workforce programs and public health training centers.