GW Colonials for Health 0

Protect the Prevention & Public Health Fund

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November 4, 2013

Dear Senator:

As you know, preventable chronic diseases account for 70 percent of all deaths and 75 percent of all health care spending.i,ii In 2005, almost half of all adults had at least one chronic illness including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, cancer among others.

If current trends continue, by 2030 the United States could spend an additional $66 billion per year on treating obesity-related conditions alone. While 7 in 10 deaths are due to these preventable chronic conditions, in 2011 only about 3% of health care funding was dedicated to preventing them and 75% was spent on treating them.

For every $1 spent through prevention programs to address physical activity, poor nutrition, and smoking cessation programs, the return on investment is $5.60.iii This means that if we invest $10 per person in the U.S., we can save about $16 billion per year.

The Prevention and Public Health Fund, established in 2010 by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is the only dedicated funding for prevention and public health programs that act to

-Reduce tobacco use,
-Help to control the obesity epidemic,
-Respond to disease outbreaks,
-Train the nation's public health and health care workforce,
-Prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, and
-Expand access to vaccines, among other things.

The Fund will provide an additional $13.5 billion over the next 10 years for these effective, proven prevention efforts. However, $332.5 million has already been diverted away from the Fund for non-prevention activities. Further cuts would be an enormous step backwards in our progress on cost-containment, public health modernization, and wellness promotion.

As health professions students and members of your constituency, we ask that you work to ensure that resources allocated for the Prevention and Public Health Fund are maintained for prevention programs and not diverted to non-prevention activities such as the health care exchange and navigator programs. While we strongly advocate for the continuation of these programs, shifting resources from the Prevention and Public Health Fund is not a viable long-term solution. Doing so would be detrimental to our nation - as the projected rise in health care costs associated with preventable chronic conditions are crippling resources, the economy, and the American people.

Protect the Fund. Prevent Disease. Promote Health.


GW Colonials for Health

i. Kung HC, Hoyert DL, Xu JQ, Murphy SL. Deaths: final data for 2005. National Vital Statistics Reports 2008;56(10). Available from:

ii. Institute of Medicine (2012). For the Public’s Health: Investing in a Healthier Future. Washington, DC. Available from

iii. Trust for America’s Health. (February, 2009). Prevention for a Healthier America: Investments in disease prevention yield significant savings, stronger communities. Retrieved on October 13, 2013 from


This sign-on letter is sponsored by GW Colonials for Health, a group of public health students from The George Washington University in Washington, DC. We hope you will join us and sign our letter to advocate for the protection of the Prevention and Public Health Fund, enacted as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Check out the Links below for more information about us!


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