Philadelphia, November 8, 2009
– The American Public Health Association (APHA) applauds the prevention and wellness provisions in the health reform bill passed last night by the House.
“With passage of this bill, the House takes important steps toward universal coverage, supporting important insurance reforms and moving our health system from one that focuses on treating the sick to one that focuses on keeping people healthy,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of APHA. “However, we urge Congress to take another look and ensure that women have access to the full range of reproductive health services in any health reform measure enacted.”
Earlier this year, APHA released its 2009 Agenda for Health Reform, which outlines APHA’s top priorities for health reform legislation. The Affordable Health Care for America Act takes important steps toward addressing many of these priority issues, including:
· Expanding health insurance coverage to include 96 percent of all Americans, barring insurance companies from discriminating against people based on pre-existing medical conditions and limiting premium age rating for older Americans;
· Creating a mandatory funding stream of $34 billion for a Prevention and Wellness Trust to strengthen core public health activities at the state and local level;
· Creating a “public option” insurance program as a competitive option to private insurance;
· Expanding the Medicaid program to cover individuals up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level, about $33,075 for a family of four;
· Requiring Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers to provide first dollar coverage for highly rated, evidence‐based preventive health services;
· Prioritizing reducing health disparities in the prevention and wellness strategy and community services grants; and
· Addressing the need for primary care, nursing and public health professionals.
“As thousands of public health professionals convene in Philadelphia this week for APHA’s 137th Annual Meeting, we look to the Senate to ensure that these important public health provisions are reflected in the chamber’s health reform legislation and to continue our progress toward an improved health system, which includes true universal coverage, a focus on prevention and wellness, and ensures women have access to the full range of reproductive health services.”