Chicago, Ill., June 25, 2011 – The American Public Health Association concludes its first-ever Midyear Meeting in Chicago today, where hundreds of public health practitioners from across the country gathered to discuss the critical role the public health community plays in implementing the historic health reform law.
Centered on the theme, “Implementing Health Reform: A Public Health Approach,” the meeting addressed a wide array of challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for state and local health departments tasked with implementing key prevention and wellness provisions included in the Affordable Care Act that aim to reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes in local communities across the country.
“As public health practitioners, we have a unique opportunity to ensure all Americans benefit from the key prevention and wellness provisions included in the law. Yet, at a time when state and local health departments face drastic budgetary constraints and staff cutbacks, it is essential to come together to address the implications of the law and anticipate obstacles that lie ahead,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of APHA. “We are hopeful that attendees will take the tools and knowledge gained here back home with them and continue to ensure the Affordable Care Act reaches its full potential.”
The opening session on June 23 introduced what would be the exclusive focus of the conference, engaging the public health community in transforming the nation’s health system to emphasize prevention and wellness. The session featured Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn; former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm; APHA President and Cook County Department of Public Health Chief Medical Officer Linda Rae Murray; Lake Research Partners President Celinda Lake; Interim Chief Executive Officer at Cook County Health and Hospital System Terry Mason; and Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Health Bechara Choucair.
The breakout sessions provided an interactive environment where speakers and attendees shared information and best practices on the public health role of advancing the implementation of the health reform.
A new APHA report was released in concert with the Midyear Meeting that assesses the state of the public health workforce under health reform and shows how a lack of sustained, adequate investment in the public health workforce could jeopardize the law’s health promotion and disease prevention goals.
The 2011 APHA Midyear Meeting concludes today with speakers Lawrence Wallack, dean of the College of Urban and Public Affairs at Portland State University, and James Galloway, assistant surgeon general and acting US HHS Regional director and regional health administrator of Region V in Chicago.
More about the meeting is available on APHA’s Midyear Meeting Blog.