2012 APHA Presidential Citation
The APHA Presidential Citation, which is not presented every year but only on occasions of unusual merit, was awarded to President Barack Obama for his leadership on critical public health issues including reform of the nation’s health system.
Obama’s work to assure passage of the Affordable Care Act “is one of the greatest victories for the health of Americans in decades, and we truly appreciate your strong commitment in seeing this historic legislation enacted into law,” APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD, and President Melvin Shipp, OD, wrote in a letter to Obama. “The ACA’s strong focus on prevention and wellness is essential to ensuring that we change our health system to one that focuses on keeping people healthy rather than treating the sick. In addition to its focus on prevention, the law’s much needed health insurance coverage expansion as well the health industry reforms it includes are important to ensure adequate access to care for the entire population.”
Obama also is being recognized for his support of a number of other key public health achievements accomplished under his leadership such as the passage of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the Food Safety Modernization Act, the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act and important Clean Air Act regulations including new Mercury and Air Toxic Standards for power plants. Overall, the president has shown an ongoing commitment to protecting the public’s health.
Obama was elected the country’s 44th president on Nov. 4, 2008 and took the oath of office on Jan. 20, 2009. Before seeking public office, he worked his way through college and then moved to Chicago, where he worked with a group of churches to help rebuild communities affected by the closure of local steel plants. He attended law school and became the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. After graduation, Obama returned to Chicago and, among other pursuits, helped lead a voter registration drive and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago.
As an elected member of the Illinois Senate, Obama helped pass ethics reform and expanded health care for children and their parents. In the U.S. Senate, he championed lobbying reform, gun control and government transparency, among other issues. His wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, is leading the Let’s Move! campaign to tackle childhood obesity, and they have two daughters, Malia and Sasha.