The Affordable Care Act's Prevention and Public Health Fund represents a critical investment in our nation's health. Funding prevention activities is also a key step toward bending our unsustainable cost curve.
The Prevention and Public Health Fund was created by Section 4002 of the Affordable Care Act. Also known as the Prevention Fund or PPHF, it is the nation’s first mandatory funding stream dedicated to improving our nation’s public health. By law, the Fund must be used "to provide for expanded and sustained national investment in prevention and public health programs to improve health and help restrain the rate of growth in private and public health care costs."
Today, seven in 10 deaths in the U.S. are related to chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer, which are often preventable. Another striking fact is that 75 percent of our health care dollars are spent treating such diseases. However, only 3 percent of our health care dollars go toward prevention.
To adequately meet our prevention needs, and to control our unsustainable growth in health care costs, a 2012 Institute of Medicine report recommended that we increase federal funding for public health and prevention by $12 billion annually, a doubling of the FY 2009 federal investment in public health.
A key first step toward meeting this need is the Prevention and Public Health Fund. According to recent research, this kind of investment has the potential to improve health outcomes and reduce costs. For example, a $2.9 billion investment in community-based disease prevention programs would be estimated to save $16.5 billion annually within five years (in 2004 dollars).
So far, the Fund has provided $2.25 billion for prevention and public health activities: $500 million in FY 2010, $750 million in FY 2011, and $1 billion in FY 2012.
Prevention Fund dollars are being used in a variety of ways, including supporting the work of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Health Resources and Services Administration:Community prevention: Funds are being used to enhance community-based preventive health programs at the local level including tobacco cessation, obesity prevention, and disease-specific efforts.
Clinical prevention: Funds are being used to expand awareness of clinical preventive services and benefits.
Public health infrastructure and training: Funds are being used to bolster public health infrastructure at the state and local level, increase training capacity for the health care workforce, and expand public health officials' ability to prevent and respond to infectious disease outbreaks.
Research and tracking: Funds are being used to increase and expand data collection on public health services nationwide.
Examples of funded activities include:
Through the National Public Health Improvement Initiative, Virginia has achieved information technology savings of $1.2 million, seen a 32 percent increase in enrollment in the state’s Medicaid Family Planning Program, and realized an overall increase in efficiency.
Through the Community Transformation Grant program, Iowa is expanding access to blood pressure and tobacco use screenings at dental practices to over 300,000 patients, increasing the number of referrals to the state’s tobacco quitline service, and targeting health interventions at the region of the state with the highest stroke mortality rates.
- (Updated) Updated chart of Prevention and Public Health Fund allocations, FY 2010 enacted through FY 2014 (PDF, updated Jan. 2014)
- APHA fact sheet: The Prevention and Public Health Fund (PDF, updated May 21, 2013)
- APHA issue brief: The Prevention and Public Health Fund: A critical investment in our nation's physical and fiscal health (PDF, June 2012)
- APHA's The Nation's Health: Prevention and Public Health Fund paying off in communities: Success threatened by cuts to fund (August 2012)
- Trust for America's Health: Prevention and Public Health Stories in the States (March 2012)
- Health Affairs: Health Policy Brief: The Prevention and Public Health Fund (February 2012, subscription-based)
- Trust for America's Health: The New Prevention Fund (state-specific information, updated July 2011)
- Trust for America's Health: Investing in America’s Health: A State-by-State Look at Public Health Funding and Key Health Facts (PDF, April 2013)
- Health Affairs: Why Behavioral And Environmental Interventions Are Needed To Improve Health At Lower Cost (May 2011, subscription-based)
- Urban Institute: The Role of Prevention in Bending the Cost Curve (PDF, October 2011)
- Health Affairs: Greater Use Of Preventive Services In U.S. Health Care Could Save Lives At Little Or No Cost (September 2010, subscription-based)
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